Slain French monks among 19 to be beatified in Algeria

A picture taken on November 28, 2018, shows a picture of the seven French Trappist monks glued on a door at the Tibhirine monastery. (AFP)
Updated 05 December 2018
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Slain French monks among 19 to be beatified in Algeria

  • The Catholic Church will beatify in Algeria seven French monks and 12 other clergy killed during the country’s civil war
  • The Trappist monks were abducted from the Priory of Our Lady of Atlas in Tibhirine

ORAN: The Catholic Church will on Saturday beatify in Algeria seven French monks and 12 other clergy killed during the country’s civil war, the first ceremony of its kind in a Muslim nation.
The Trappist monks were abducted from the Priory of Our Lady of Atlas in Tibhirine, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Algiers, by gunmen in March 1996.
Their severed heads were discovered two months later and their deaths were announced by the insurgent Armed Islamic Group of Algeria (GIA).
The tragedy inspired a 2010 French film, “Des Hommes et des Dieux,” (Of Gods and Men) starring Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale that won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Vatican declared in January that the monks were martyrs for their faith, along with the 12 others slain in Algeria between 1994 and 1996, including Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran.
Frenchman Claverie, who strove to improve ties between different faiths, was assassinated along with his driver in a bomb attack at his office in 1996.
The five other religious men and six women killed, including citizens of France, Spain, Belgium and one born in Tunis, were gunned down in 1994 and 1995.
Beatification is the first step on the path to Roman Catholic sainthood.
It is reserved for three categories of people: martyrs, those who have lived a life of heroic values, and others with a clear saintly reputation.


Some 200,000 people lost their lives in Algeria’s 1991-2002 civil war between Islamists and security forces, dubbed the country’s “Black Decade.”
Archbishop of Algiers, Paul Desfarges, said the ceremony in the northwestern port city of Oran was “a way to highlight” the dedication of the 19 men and women who remained in the country during the violence.
“They did not hesitate to risk their lives because the most important thing for them was their relationship with others, rather than protecting themselves,” he told AFP.
Father Thomas Georgeon, who presented the case in Rome for the beatification, said it was the first time the Church would carry out such a ceremony in a Muslim country.
He insisted the move was not intended to “glorify the death of Christians at the hands of Muslims, but to mark their deaths alongside those of so many Algerian martyrs.”
The Algerian authorities in April officially gave the Vatican approval for the beatification to take place in the North African country.
The event will be presided over by Pope Francis’s envoy Angelo Becciu.
Archbishop Desfarges said he hoped the beatification would serve to reinforce the ties between the Catholic Church and the people of Algeria — just like the work of those being celebrated.
“We did not want to hold the beatification just among Christians as these brothers and sisters died alongside dozens and dozens of thousands of Algerians,” he said.
“We want to continue to be the church of friendship, brotherhood and coexistence.”


UN's Guterres: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince contributed to reaching Yemen agreement

Updated 3 min 15 sec ago
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UN's Guterres: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince contributed to reaching Yemen agreement

  • UN Secretary General said crown prince had been “very important to the outcome of the consultations”
  • The secretary-general thanked those inside and outside the region that tried to encourage progress

LONDON: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi contributed to reaching agreements in Yemen and helped achieve the ceasfire in Hodeidah, the UN's Antonio Gutteres said on Thursday.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters at the organization's headquarters in New York Thursday that Guterres felt the crown prince’s contribution had been “very important to the outcome of the consultations” and that Hadi “played a positive role.”

The secretary-general thanked those inside and outside the region that tried to encourage the parties to make progress at the talks in Sweden and believes this was “valuable” in reaching Thursday’s agreement, Haq said.

Hodeidah is a key port in Yemen for those trying to import desperately needed food and supplies into the country.