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Martyrs of Algeria



Official opening in Algiers of the cause of the martyrs in Algeria

11/12/2007: Algeria

On the morning of Friday 5 October 2007, the cause of the martyrs in Algeria was officially opened in Algiers. The tribunal has been set up to receive the testimonies, and its members took their oath. That same afternoon saw the beginning of the interviews of the witnesses who had met the martyrs.

Altogether the group consists of 19 people, and the list is headed by our Brother Henri Vergès and Sister Paul-Hélène Saint-Raymond, murdered on May 8, 1994. That list ends with the bishop of Orán, Mons. Pierre Claverie, who was killed on August 1 1996. In the group there are other five nuns, four White Fathers and seven Trappist monks.

Several reasons have contributed to the official opening of the cause.

1 - Firstly, the reputation for sanctity surrounds these martyrs. The media made a great deal of these victims whose story appeared on the television screens and in articles and reviews from newspapers and magazines. There has been a remarkable output of pictures, posters, books and audiovisual material about them. Several of the witnesses have affirmed that they turn spontaneously to them in prayer. And novenas are made to one or another asking for some favour.

2 - These martyrs respond to an urgency in todays world. Cultures, religions, particularly the Christian and Muslim faith, are called to coexistence and to understanding of each other. This world needs models of dialogue, of sympathy, of the art of living together in mutual acceptance, respecting what they are and in what they believe. Our 19 martyrs were exactly that, bridge heads between the Christian faith and the Muslim faith. They always demonstrated a double fidelity, to Christ and to the Algerian people. They were sharing people who took the Algerians to their heart, courteous and kind people.

3 - With these 19 martyrs, the Church of Algeria has received an exceptional gift. But this treasure must be put at the disposition of the universal Church. All Christians, those of today and those of tomorrow, are entitled to consolidate their faith knowing the fidelity and the strength of these martyrs, and praising God through them.

4 - Let us remember our Brothers who have died violently, by not erasing history. This is what a number of Muslim people have told us. These first steps of the cause are directed towards a possible canonization, that is to say, an official entry in the memory of the Church. When, later, the Church commemorates our 19 martyrs, we will remember painful moments in the history of Algeria. Together with the memory of the martyrs, will be the memory of 150.000 innocent Muslim victims, among whom there were people of great humanity. They will all live in the same praise to God.

All those who sought the good of Algeria through total fidelity to their faith, will help us to build a more tolerant, welcoming world.

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