A 66-year-old Catholic priest and some nuns were able to flee with children said to be orphans from Afghanistan into safety.
The Christian Headlines reported that the Barnabite priest Fr. Giovanni Scalese was able to escape together with four Missionaries of Charity sisters and 14 children aged six to twenty Wednesday last week from the dangers posed by the Taliban.
"We thank the Lord for the success of the operation. I thank all of you who in these days have raised incessant prayers to Him on our behalf, prayers that were obviously fulfilled. Continue to pray for Afghanistan and for its people," Scalese said in a social media post.
Scalese is the parish priest of the only Catholic church in Afghanistan and was assigned there in 2014 by Pope Francis. The said only Catholic church was a "mission sui iuris" created in 2002 by the late Pope John Paul II. Since arriving in Afghanistan, Scalese had been working in providing charity work for the poorest of the poor.
Meanwhile, the Missionaries of Charities nuns, a congregation founded by the late Sr. Teresa of Calcutta, look after the children who have disabilities. Transporting the children then to the airport safely was a challenge especially since some were in wheelchairs. Scalese and his group arrived in Rome on August 25.
"I would never have returned to Italy without these children. We could not leave them there," Scalese disclosed.
Scalese revealed that they "experienced a bit of fear" of the Taliban. He narrated that they even encountered them when they reached the Italian embassy's gates. He said they were not hurt by the Taliban although they could have been, but were able to safely board an Italian aircraft bound for the Rome-Fiumicino International Airport through the aid of Vatican and Italian institutions.
"If they had wanted to hurt us, they could have but nothing happened," Scalese said. "We never felt alone."
Scalese said to journalists during his arrival that he continues to hope that Afghanistan would become stable in the future and remarked that he would be eager to return there. He also called on the faithful for continuous prayers for "the suffering country."
"If one day we will once again have the chance to be present and continue our pastoral work and our social work for the poor, then why not?! But for now, we can and we must especially pray for peace," Scalese remarked.
Besides Scalese' group, another nun from the St. Jeanne-Antide Thouret congregation, Sr. Shahnaz Bhatti, also arrived safely in Rome on August 25. Bhatti is said to be in charge of Kabul's "Pro Bambini" charity that also administers to disabled children, as well as, their families. Bhatti, who has been working in "Pro Bambini" since 2006, lamented that 50 of the children were left in Afghanistan.
The Italian government and Sant'egidio (St. Egidio), an international community committed to the poor and for peace based in Rome, have been helping Afghans flee to safety through the setup of humanitarian corridors, which have so far evacuated 400 refugees. The Sant'egidio actually welcomed the first of the said evacuees brought in from Kabul by Italian military airplanes.
The first batch of evacuees, Sant'egidio said in a press release, were mostly families with small children who bought nothing with them and are in need of their basic necessities. The organization has actually launched a fund drive for the support of the sustenance and other needs of the refugees and those still pending evacuation from Afghanistan. As per the United States deadline, evacuation operations end this month.