“By opening this Door of Mercy, we offer forgiveness to all those who have persecuted the Church, destroyed its structures and have wanted to erase God’s Name from society”. These were the words chosen to accompany the opening of the Doors of Mercy in Lwena, Angola. In a country devastated by a 27-year-long civil war which left 2 million people dead, 80,000 injured and forced another 1.7 million to flee their homes, the opening of the Door of Mercy, a symbol of forgiveness and reconciliation, is a particularly powerful action.
Bishop Jesus Tirso Blanco of Lwena said during the opening ceremony that “Each of these doors is a testimony to God’s Mercy. God has shown compassion for His people, who for decades had been sinking into the abyss of war, bringing death and destruction everywhere. Each of these doors represents an invitation to reconciliation, forgiveness and faith”.
Although the Angolan war ended in 2002, the country continues to strive to get back on its feet again. ACN is helping to rebuild a foundation for Christianity in this country. Among the already reconstructed places of worship, is the Church of St. Boniface in Lumbala Nguimbo. This church had lost its roof, windows and doors during the war and the walls had been targeted by all types of bombing.
“Many thought that the Church could not be reconstructed” Bishop Tirso Blanco said, “However, its doors were reopened in 2013 and in 2015 the Doors of Mercy were opened giving new hope to those who had once had a place to pray and worship and who had been scattered until today”.
There are many places that haven’t been as lucky. Out of the Sant’Ana of Camanongue church, only one archway survived when all the other walls collapsed. This door, not leading to an earthly home, is a Door of Mercy that silently affirms what the people of Angola say and feel, “We forgive, but we cannot forget and we will work so that every citizen has a place to quench their thirst for God and who can bear witness to the times we are living in”.