He said that the Catholic population shares the fate of “everybody else,” at this point.
Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, told Fides on Feb. 23 that the Catholic community in Libya is made up entirely of “foreigners.”
While the Europeans have been mostly evacuated, the Filipinos - who have a particular presence as hospital nurses - have remained, but the African immigrants “are the ones who need the most assistance.”
Bishop Martinelli is “convinced that there are many people who want peace above all.”
Of the Church in Tripoli, he said they have not had any trouble. “We even had some signs of solidarity on the part of the Libyans, in the form of assistance to both the sisters and to Christians, such as the Filipino nurses who are serving at local hospitals.”
He is closely monitoring the situation of religious communities, he said. For those working around the clock to treat victims, they have instructions that they may leave the country for a period of rest if they feel mentally and physically infirm.
Bishop Martinelli also said that one group of religious sisters who work with immigrants in Tripoli may soon be leaving the city anyway because “in this situation it is precarious to work.”
Bishops Martinelli and Magro oversee the two apostolic vicariates that coordinate Church activities from the western capital of Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi.
To serve the large and varied immigrant communities, Masses are held at least once a week for at least 10 different groups divided up by nationality or language.
Masses for Koreans, Indians, Eritreans and Filipinos are interspersed among those given in English, Italian, French, Polish and Arabic.
Parish activities are still largely overseen by Franciscan priests. In a number of cities and towns, but in particular in Tripoli and Benghazi, religious communities are also present.
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For now, the conflict continues and projections for casualties look grim.
The vice president of the European Parliament, Gianni Pitella, told Vatican Radio that they have received confirmation of around 10,000 dead. He warned that the figure would be increasing by the hour.
He said that “the brutal madness of the regime puts almost any means, even the most atrocious, into play ... to stop the citizens that are in the squares, in the streets and are seeing their dream of freedom being realized.”