Catholic charity urges world leaders to condemn Nigeria church massacre

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA


Cross of the Martyrs. / Aaron Groote via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Rome Newsroom, Jun 6, 2022 / 04:08 am (CNA).

More political and religious leaders around the world should be speaking out about the attack on a Catholic church in Nigeria that reportedly left at least 50 people dead, an international Catholic charity has said.

The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need denounced the “Pentecost massacre” on June 5 in St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, as “another terrorist act in Nigeria, one more on the long list of crimes against Christians.”

“Aid to the Church in Need calls on all political and religious leaders in the world to firmly and explicitly condemn this terrorist attack,” the charity said in a statement.

ACN spokesperson Maria Lozano noted that Nigeria has “been rocked by episodes of violence, banditry, and kidnappings that, although affecting all ethnic and religious groups in the nation, have led to a long list of major attacks on the Christian community over the last few decades.”

In the June 5 attack in southwestern Nigeria, gunmen reportedly fired at Catholic worshipers attending Pentecost celebrations and detonated explosives, according to CNA’s African news partner, ACI Africa.

Reuters reported that the gunmen, whose identity remains unclear, killed at least 50 people, according to a local doctor. State police have yet to announce the total number of casualties.

ACN noted that until now southwestern Nigeria had not been as affected by insecurity and violence as Nigeria’s northern and Middle Belt regions.

Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, the president of the Nigerian Catholic bishops’ conference, said: “Nowhere seems to be safe again in our country; not even the sacred precincts of a Church.”

The archbishop of Owerri condemned “in the strongest terms the spilling of innocent blood in the House of God.”

“We call on the government to hunt them down and bring them to book. If the government fails to act decisively on such a grave matter, it would be encouraging the descent of anarchy on our nation,” he said.

The archbishop called on President Muhammadu Buhari and other elected leaders to “rise to its primary responsibility of securing the life and property of its citizens.”

“The world is watching us! Above all, God is also watching us,” he added.

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