Priest given jail sentence for praying

A Catholic priest in Algeria has been sentenced to a year in prison for praying with Christians in Cameroon.

Zenit reports Fr Pierre Wallez is the first victim of legislation approved in March 2006 prohibiting directing a religious ceremony in a place which has not been recognized by the government in Algeria.

Speaking on Vatican Radio, Alger Archbishop Henri Teissier (pictured) said "the most surprising thing is that the conviction was issued simply because the priest visited a group of Christians in Cameroon. He had not celebrated Mass, but was only joining them in a prayer. It was December 29, a little after Christmas," Archbishop Teissier said.

The prelate said the sentence will not be carried out, because the tribunal decided to modify it to a sentence of parole.

In Algeria, Islam is the state religion, and freedom of worship is purportedly guaranteed by the constitution. The new law on worship sought above all to control clandestine evangelical proselytising groups.

Priest penalised for praying in Ageria (Zenit 13/01/08)

15 Feb 2008