Algeria in the 1990s was a time of great upheaval where Christians found themselves confronting radical Muslim groups. Recently this era has returned to the attention of people in Europe and the US with the release of the film, Of Gods and Men, on the Trappists killed there. But the Trappists were not the only victims of the violence there.
Bishop Pierre Lucien Claverie, French bishop of Oran, Algeria, proponent of active solidarity and dialogue with Islam, was killed on August 1, 1996.
Here a few quotations from this martyr:
“We are not prophets or fanatics or heroes; but neither are we islands. We have forged some relationships with Algerians that nothing can destroy, even death.”
“There is no life without love. There is no love without letting go every possession and giving oneself.”
“That is probably what is at the basis of my religious vocation,” Claverie wrote in 1996, shortly before he was killed. “I wondered why, throughout my Christian childhood when I listened to sermons on loving one’s neighbor, I had never heard anyone say the Arabs were my neighbors.
“It is my conviction that humanity can only exist in the plural. As soon as we claim to possess the truth or speak in the name of humanity we fall into totalitarianism and exclusion. No one possesses the truth; everyone seeks it.
“So that love vanquishes hate, one must love to the point of giving one’s life in the daily combat from which Jesus himself did not escape unscathed.”