In the 1990s Algeria was torn apart by the violence. Among the victims were Trappist monks, other men and women religious, and a bishop, Monseigneur Pierre Lucien Claverie, Bishop of Oran, who was killed on this day in 1996. He was the last Catholic leader killed in Algeria.
He was born in Algeria of French parents. He was very sympathetic to the cause of Algerian independence in the 1950s.
After studying and being ordained a Dominican priest in France, he decided to return to Algeria in 1967.
He directed a center for Arabic and Islamic studies which attracted Muslims and ot only Christians.
For Bishop Claverie, his love embraced all.
As he wrote shortly before his 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.
“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.”
Today, we need to be reminded that all people are our neighbors and we are called to love them all – not with pious intentions, but with a love that seeks their good and the good of all peoples.
Today, love your neighbor – and, if you really want to be a follower of Christ, love your enemy.