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Cardinal Sarah: Nigerians killed by terrorists are ‘martyrs’

January 2, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Maiduguri, Nigeria, Jan 2, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- African Church leaders have responded to the reported Dec. 26 execution of 11 Nigerian Christians by a terrorist group affiliated with the Isamic State.

“We woke up a day after Christmas to the horrible news of the gruesome decapitation of Christian hostages by the Islamic State terrorists,” Fr. Benjamin Achi told ACI Africa Dec. 28.

Achi is director of communications in Nigeria’s Diocese of Enugu, where abductions targeting priests have been on the rise in recent months.

The priest’s comments referred to a Dec. 26 video depicting militants beheading 10 blindfolded captives, and shooting an eleventh.

The West African province of Islamic State, which broke off from Boko Haram in 2016, said the killings were revenge for the deaths of Islamic State’s caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other IS leaders, who were killed by a U.S. raid in October.

The captives were taken in recent weeks from the Maiduguri area in Borno state, the IS claimed.

Achi said the December killings might portend even more Islamist violence in Nigeria.

“This latest development gives serious cause for worry, especially in the wake of the latest move by the federal government of Nigeria to throw wide the borders of the country for anyone who wishes from any part of the continent to come in without visas and proper documentation,” the priest told ACI Africa.

The priest was referring to new visa regulations in Nigeria, which make it easier for Africans to enter the country. The regulations have been widely criticized within Nigeria.

“We are indeed concerned that this decision would facilitate the influx of more of these terrorists from other parts of Africa into Nigeria,” Achi said.

“Christians in all parts of Nigeria have been apprehensive overtime and have seen themselves as clear targets of the endless acts of terrorism being witnessed in the country,” Achi told ACI Africa

On Dec. 28, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments, tweeted about the Dec. 26 killings.

“In Nigeria, the murder of eleven Christians by mad Islamists is a reminder of how many of my African brothers in Christ live faith at the risk of their own lives,” Sarah wrote.

“These baptized are martyrs. They have not betrayed the Gospel,” they have not betrayed the Gospel,” the cardinal added.


In Nigeria, the murder of eleven Christians by mad Islamists is a reminder of how many of my African brothers in Christ live faith at the risk of their own lives. These baptized are martyrs. They have not betrayed the Gospel. Let us pray fervently for them. +RS

— Cardinal R. Sarah (@Card_R_Sarah) December 28, 2019

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese sees the Christmas Day action by the IS as part of a continued effort to promote antagonism between Christians and Muslims in the country and region.

“They are trying to create a situation of war,” Kaigama told Vatican Radio.

“They want to see Muslims and Christians fighting.”

According to the archbishop, IS members hope that in the midst of the confusion, they might “have the upper hand and be able to destroy Christians, take over the country and even the neighboring countries.”


A version of this story was previously reported by ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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Abuse lawsuit window opens in California

January 2, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Sacramento, Calif., Jan 2, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- A three-year window opened in California Wednesday, allowing lawsuits over childhood sexual abuse that would normally be impeded by the state’s statute of limitations.

The window was created whe… […]

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Pope Francis apologizes for losing patience with woman who grabbed him

January 1, 2020 CNA Daily News 7

Vatican City, Jan 1, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis apologized Wednesday for losing his patience with a woman who grabbed his arm in St. Peter’s Square on New Year’s Eve.

“Many times we lose our patience; me too. I apologize for yesterday’s bad example,” Pope Francis in a departure from his prepared remarks for the Angelus prayer Jan. 1.

While greeting the crowd in front of the Vatican nativity scene Dec. 31, a woman yanked the pope’s arm. Visibly upset, Pope Francis slapped her hand and walked away frustrated.

After his impromptu apology, the pope said that contemplating the nativity scene helps one to see with the eyes of faith a vision of “the renewed world, freed from the dominion of evil and placed under the royal lordship of Christ, the Child who lies in the manger.”

Christ’s salvation involves the “patience of love,” he said. “Love makes us patient.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, let us descend from the pedestals of our pride – we all have the temptation of pride – and ask the blessing of the Holy Mother of God, the humble Mother of God,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address.

Earlier on Jan. 1, the pope celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, a holy day of obligation in the Church.

Pope Francis said in his homily that the Church finds its unity in the Blessed Virgin Mary. He prayed, asking the Mother of God to bring unity among Catholics.

“The enemy of our human nature, the devil, seeks instead to divide, to highlight differences, ideologies, partisan thinking and parties,” he said.

“As her sons and daughters, invoke today the Mother of God, who gathers us together as a people of believers. O Mother, give birth to hope within us and bring us unity,” the pope prayed.


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Pope Francis: Honor the dignity of women for a better world in 2020

January 1, 2020 CNA Daily News 2

Vatican City, Jan 1, 2020 / 05:15 am (CNA).- Pope Francis began the new year with a call for the dignity of women to be honored — not exploited for profit and pornography — in 2020.

“How many times is the woman’s body sacrificed on the profane altars of advertising, profit, pornography, exploited as a surface to be used,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Basilica Jan. 1.

“If we want a better world, which is a house of peace and not a war zone, we have to care for the dignity of every woman,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said that our level of humanity can be judged by how we treat a woman’s body, “the most noble flesh in the world” and “the culmination of creation.”

“Women are sources of life. Yet they are continually offended, beaten, raped, coaxed into prostitution and to kill the life that occurs in their womb. Any violence inflicted on women is a profanation of God, born of a woman,” the pope said.

In his homily for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Pope Francis said that women must be honored and respected.

He said that today’s world humiliates motherhood by only valuing economic productivity, when women embody the “purpose of creation itself — the generation and custody of life.”

“When women can transmit their gifts, the world finds itself more united and more peaceful. Therefore, an achievement for women is an achievement for all humanity,” Pope Francis said.

“So let’s start the year in the sign of Our Lady, a woman who has woven the humanity of God,” he urged.

Pope Francis said that the Church rediscovers her unity in Mary as “the enemy of human nature, the devil, instead tries to divide it, putting differences, ideologies, and partisan thoughts and camps in the foreground.”

The pope asked everyone in St. Peter’s Basilica to pray together acclaiming “Holy Mother of God” three times.

“We children today invoke the Mother of God, who unites us as a believing people. O Mother, generate hope in us, bring unity to us. Woman of salvation, we entrust you this year, keep it in your heart,” he said.