The church in Angola is facing a potential crisis following an unprecedented government decision to make military service obligatory for all, including seminarians.
    Jesuit superior Joao Canico said that the government will call to arms most students in the country's seminaries, within nine months. "The church is holding talks with government in a bid to gain exemption from military service for seminarians or at least some lesser concessions," he said.
    Fr Canico stressed that the military recruitment of seminarians threatens to have far-reaching, disastrous consequences for the local church. "The result will be that, for the next five years at least, we will have no ordinations, followed by three years with no students in the seminaries," he said.
    Seminarians born in 1978 will be conscripted in April, those born in 1979 in July, and those born in 1980 in January 2000. And all seminarians born before 1978 must do military service when they finish their studies.
    Fr Canico said that the only hope would seem to be the lobbying efforts of the church to try and establish a protocol of military service for seminarians. "If military exemption cannot be granted to seminarians, the church is at least asking that they will not have to take up arms, and that they do not have to interrupt their studies."

3:52pm 6/5/99 / JRS


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