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Eritrea: government keeps tight restrictions on Church

July 10, 2015

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The government of Eritrea, which has been cited by the UN for multiple human-rights abuses, exercises tight control over the Catholic Church, the charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports.

Seminarians, like all young men, are required to undergo military training. Once they have received this training they are forbidden to leave the country; thus priests cannot travel abroad for study. In the past, many seminarians who reported for military training simply disappeared. Public events are regularly scheduled for Sunday mornings, and this year on Good Friday as well.

Thousands of people have been jailed in Eritrea for political and religious reasons; ACN cites estimates that at least 1,200 Christians are behind bars because of their faith. Christian leaders are also subject to arrest; the canonically elected patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church was placed under house arrest and replaced by a prelate more acceptable to the Asmara regime.

The Catholic Church—along with the Orthodox, Lutheran, and Islamic communities—is officially recognized by the government. But local sources tell ACN that public officials routinely interfere with worship services, often by requiring attendance at public functions or even sporting events held at the same time.

 


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