Algeria and the Arab world (April 1958)

During the war in Algeria there were a strong campaign to ask the Vatican to back “Christian France” in its colonial war. In this letter La Pira takes a completely different standpoint:

… We would need more than all the oil below the Sahara, or Iraq, or Persia, most blessed Father, to put forward a “high potential” historic ideal as a healthy alternative to the nationalistic and religious ferment presently stirring the Arab peoples and all the African and Asian peoples, and getting stronger by the day!

What can the West show (France, Britain and America) as a shining star able to act as a pole of attraction to draw new peoples and new nations towards it? This is the problem! What “Star of Jacob” appears in the firmament of the so-called free world? The star of freedom? Most Blessed Father this star is too faded, too adulterated, this most precious star that God created, which was supposed to move in the orbit of Him, an orbit of justice and beauty, an orbit of adoration and brotherhood..

This “ideal” of so-called economic and political freedom no longer has any attraction, or beauty, or effectiveness. Its very substance has been adulterated by the “liberal” conception of the world that arose counter to the Christian perspective, and which has increasingly become materialistic, oppressive and atheistic.

… if France does not wish to become eclipsed as a guiding light to Christian civilisation if must, first and foremost, devise a political approach to the Algerian question as opposed to a police-based one. The Algerian people want independence and it is their right to have it. Oil is no justification in a situation that is shaking the whole world.

… These are strange times – for the first time the relationship between Christianity and Islam, Christianity and Israel and between Christianity and the whole Gentile world is emerging in a totally new perspective.

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