Asmara, Eritrea, Dec 4, 2012 / 00:25 am
The Eritrean government's practice of forced military conscription means that seminarians and other church workers are being forced into the army, causing a personnel shortage for the Catholic Church.
A source close to the local Church told the charity Aid to the Church in Need that the compulsory military service is "bleeding the Church in Eritrea to death."
The source, who spoke anonymously for fear of reprisals, said the government "exaggerates the danger of war, as a pretext to keep people in military service." The source said the atmosphere of imminent war helps "keep people in line."
The communist government, which does not set a fixed period for military service, has kept many Church workers and seminarians in military service for more than 15 years in some cases. The government "even wants to arm priests," the source said.