The French monk, his brother Jean-Pierre Schumacher, the last survivor of the taking hostage of the monks of Tibéhirine in 1996 during the Algerian civil war, was welcomed during a spiritual vigil in the Sainte Marie cathedral in Oran, in the north of France. west of Algeria, before the beatification of 19 Catholic religious, 7 December 2018 / AFP
On Saturday in Algeria, the Catholic Church beatified 19 Catholic monks murdered during the civil war, including the seven "Tibhirine monks", first in a Muslim country.
In Tamié, the beatification of the martyrs of Algeria has lived in sobriety
The celebration on the esplanade of the Chapel of Our Lady of Santa Cruz in Oran (400 km west of Algiers) began in the afternoon in the presence of about 1,200 people, hundreds of whom came from the stranger – families, friends, pilgrims.
The chapel, which overlooks Orano and its port, has recently been renovated and its esplanade has been renamed "Place-Vivre-ensemble".
Placed under high security, the celebration is celebrated by the special envoy of Pope Francis, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints (responsible of the Vatican for all the processes of beatification and canonization).
These "19 martyrs of Algeria" are 15 French, two Spaniards, one Belgian and one Maltese, coming from eight different Catholic congregations, murdered between 1994 and 1996.
The tomb of one of the French monks murdered during the civil war in Algeria in the 90s, November 28, 2018 in the monastery of Tibéhirine, about 80 kilometers from Algiers. / AFP / Archives
On Saturday, during the prayer of the Angelus Place Saint-Pierre, Pope Francis spoke about the beatification "of Bishop Pierre Claverie and his 18 companions, religious and religious killed in the hatred of the faith" in Algeria.
– "Building together" –
"May this beatification be an incentive for everyone to build together a world of fraternity and solidarity", he declared before thousands of faithful.
Bishop Pierre Claverie, Dominican and archbishop of Oran, a strong supporter of dialogue with Islam, was killed in August 1996 by a bomb with his young Algerian Mohamed Bouchikhi.
The seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, who were abducted in the night between 26 and 27 March 1996 and whose only heads were found, are beatified, whose exact circumstances are still mysterious today.
Their tragic destiny has inspired the film by French director Xavier Beauvois, "Men and Gods", awarded at the Cannes Film Festival, which made them known.
Among the "martyrs" there are also four white fathers machine-gunned in the courtyard of their mission at Tizi-Ouzou (100 km east of Algiers) at the end of 1994, as well as a Marist brother, a sister of the Assumption, two Sisters Spanish missionaries, two sisters of the Madonna of the Apostles and a sister of the Sacred Heart, all shot in Algiers in 1994 and 1995.
The interreligious choir participates in the spiritual vigil in the Sainte Marie cathedral of Oran (north-west of Algeria), 7 December 2018 / AFP
All of them refused, despite the increasing risks, to leave Algeria and its population, with whom they claimed to be deeply connected.
Hence the desire of the Catholic Church that their beatification takes place in Algeria, has recently declared to the bishop Paul Desfarges, the archbishop of Algiers.
"We did not want a beatification among Christians, because these brothers and sisters died in the midst of tens and thousands of Algerians" Muslims who died during the decade (1992-2002) of the civil war, "said Mgr Desfarges.
This is the first beatification ceremony to be held in a Muslim country, Father Thomas Georgeon, postulator of their cause, mentioned in Rome.
– Beatification in the Muslim country –
Oran Muslim dignitaries joined the celebration by receiving in the morning the families of the blessed in the Ibn Badis Grand Mosque of the city, in the presence of Cardinal Becciu and the Algerian minister for religious affairs, Mohamed Aïssa.
"This event, we Muslims, we associate with great joy", said an imam of Oran, Mostapha Jaber, at the Great Mosque, "these Christian martyrs killed during this national tragedy were men of peace, men of good faith, men who had a determined mission to spread peace.
"These people have spent their lives in the middle of the country, to give them what they could offer," said Father Thierry Becker, parish priest of Oran from 1962, the year of the independence of France. Algeria and former assistant bishop Claverie.
Many policemen have been deployed since Friday in Oran, according to an AFP journalist.
These 19 martyrs were "well killed because they are Christians", recently remarked in Rome Father Remi Bazin, a leader of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
The cause of the beatification was able to testify that they were killed "by hating their behavior inspired by faith," he explained.
Jean-Paul Vesco, French bishop of the Catholic diocese of Oran, speaks on December 7, 2018 during a spiritual vigil in the cathedral of Santa Maria in this city in the northwest of Algeria, before the beatification of 19 Catholic Catholics murdered during the Algerian civil war / AFP
"The brothers and sisters who gave their lives have consciously given it to the Algerian people," said Sister Benedict of the Cross, Cistercian – brotherhood of the monks of Tibhirine – from France for the ceremony.
"Through them, we think of all those who lost their lives" during the civil war, which killed about 200,000 people, including many civilians, killed in attacks or massacres attributed to Islamic armed groups.