A good year after the beginning of the "Arab Spring" Archbishop Ludwig Schick visited Tunisia. On our site interview, the chairman of the Commission for the Universal Church of the German Bishops' Conference talks about the lively Catholic minority church in the country.
Interviewer: What have you found of the freedom you hoped for in Tunisia??
Schick: Hope is there. And Christians always have hope. This is also true for Christians in Tunisia. I experienced a very lively church there. A very small church that says about itself: "We are a church of foreigners for foreigners". Almost all priests and religious are not from Tunisia, but from Spain, France, England or Argentina. But they work very much, very well and very effectively. Above all, they care about the people who, as they did, immigrate to Tunisia. They are mainly black Africans from West Africa; they are a lot of students, because Tunisia is a very developed country. And many see the possibility of moving to Europe later – in order to get better living conditions there.
Interviewer: How can we imagine the life of Christians in Tunisia??
Fancy: Life is not limited to the outside. They have their churches and they hold their religious instruction within their walls, the Catholic Church also has many schools that are attended almost exclusively by Muslims: The Church is also active in Tunisian society, it has a missionary and evangelizing effect by spreading Christian values, by engaging with people, through libraries and in schools. Direct mission is not possible, but the gospel is still confessing. And there are also always conversions, although not many.
Interviewer: What impressed and fascinated you most in Tunisia??
Chic: What impressed and fascinated me above all was the vitality of the church: how it uses its limited possibilities to live as Christians, to give witness, to hold good, appealing services. I heard really beautiful choirs and bands in the church services. And in the schools I noticed an atmosphere of Christian kindness and love. Something is happening.
Background: On the program of the trip (9. to 12. April 2012) included a meeting with the diocesan clergy of Tunis, meeting with migrants and refugees, visiting schools and various social institutions of the Church in Tunis, and meeting with representatives of other Christian churches at the official residence of the Anglican bishop of Tunis.
The interview was conducted by Monika Weib.