Tripoli bishop still hoping for reconciliation

» 08/23/2011 14:09
LIBYA

by Bernardo Cervellera
Mgr Giovanni Martinelli expects strong resistance against the rebels. Dialogue is necessary for peace, even if it should come at the last moment. Boasting of bombing the civilian population for six months is horrible. Hundreds of Filipino women and a priest thought of fleeing by sea but were prevented by the prevailing insecurity and gunfire across the city. Tripoli’s main Catholic church is also closed because of security concerns.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Mgr Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli says he might be crazy but he is still convinced that reconciliation between Gaddafi and the rebels is possible “to bring peace to the country”. Otherwise, “there is no other solution. NATO air strikes are not a solution. Boasting of bombing the civilian population for six months is horrible.”

The bishop of Tripoli is sceptical about the possibility that rebels might take over the city. “Everything is confused but I don’t think Tripoli is in the hands of the rebels. Seif al Islam’s appearance, his self-assurance and enthusiasm, mean that rebels have taken over little or nothing.”

Yesterday, rebels announced that they had entered Tripoli amid festive crowds and that Seif al Islam had been arrested and charged before the International Criminal Court. Claims that two more of Gaddafi’s sons had been arrested had also been made. However, today a defiant Seif led a group of journalists to an area under the control of Gaddafi’s troops. Other reports indicate gunfights in other parts of the city.

“I think that a rebel victory in Tripoli will be difficult. They’ll meet strong resistance,” the bishop said.

Speaking about the situation of Christians, “they are afraid of air strikes,” Mgr Martinelli said.

A few days ago, their evacuation was still thought possible, but the level of insecurity is such now that it is impossible to walk the streets because of constant shooting.

A group of Filipino women and a priest thought to escape by sea with the help of the Philippines Embassy, but it all came to nought. “Christians can only wait now,” the prelate said.

Because of the lack of security, Tripoli’s Catholic church has been closed and no service has been performed in days.

“I am not losing hope,” the bishop said. “I think that reconciliation is still possible, perhaps at the last moment, to bring peace to the country. Bombs will not solve problems. I hope they can find ways to talk to each other.”

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