The Last Catholic Priest Has Been Evacuated From Afghanistan

September 03, 2021

With the help of Italian diplomacy, the Holy See has given help to the evacuation of several Afghan Catholics, including a priest, some women religious, and disabled children who arrived from Kabul on Wednesday, August 25, 2021.

The last remaining priest in Afghanistan, Fr. Giovanni Scalese, along with five sisters and 14 disabled children were finally evacuated from Kabul after long days of waiting.

The Barnabite religious, who remained the only priest in the country, refused to be evacuated until the sisters had left the country. The latter, for their part, refused to leave if the children in their care could not accompany them.

The group was finally able to reach the airport after several failed attempts. The Vatican has actively supported their evacuation in recent days.

Act discreetly

With a ridiculously low number of Catholics present in the country (less than 200), and without an apostolic nuncio on the spot, the Holy See has little influence over events. This is why, according to the newspaper La Croix, the Vatican, since mid-August, has asked several embassies present in Rome for their opinion on the events.

The Vatican has been very discreet, to avoid endangering the few Catholics present there, and has mainly relied on Italian diplomacy. The priest and those accompanying him, as well as other Christians present, took the airlift set up by Italy.

It should also be noted that the Catholic presence in Afghanistan is closely linked to that of Italy, whose embassy housed the only church in the country, except for the country churches, light constructions intended for the chaplains of foreign troops. But these were almost all destroyed.

In Rome, according to the newspaper La Croix: “In private, some very senior Vatican officials do not hide their criticism of US President Joe Biden. The subject may also be discussed at the end of October during a meeting between the new president and Pope Francis, on the sidelines of the G20 meeting organized in Rome.”

The fact remains that this rout of the “West” by the Taliban will leave traces and have profound repercussions on Islamist currents. The world is now faced with a newly claimed Islamic state, which has established its domination over Afghanistan, and which has a commander of the believers in the person of Haibatullah Akhundzada, founder of the movement.