Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama Responds to Latest Attack on Faithful
Head of Nigerian Bishops Calls on Christians to Not Seek Vengeance
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KADUNA, Nigeria, OCT. 31, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria described how clergy and people alike are at a point of "near desperation" after parishioners attending Sunday Mass in the north became the latest victims of extremist violence.
In a report by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), violence struck during Mass last Sunday at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Kaduna where five people, including the suicide bomber, died and 134 were injured.
Archbishop Kaigama, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, stressed people’s "apprehension" over the government's failure to provide security and bring the perpetrators to justice.
In a statement sent to ACN Archbishop Kaigama wrote: "We as pastors have reached a state of near desperation – seeing children, women and men bombed out of existence. Attacks continue to be visited on our people with very little sign that the concerned political and security officials are able to arrest the situation."
The head of Nigeria's Catholic Bishops Conference said that local Catholics are in a state of apprehension and also disturbed that "terrorists can easily get away with horrible acts of criminality against innocent people."
A Test of Christian Faith
While acknowledging that there is anger in the Christian community as well as temptation to fight back, Archbishop Kaigama made clear that vengeance is not the message that he wants to endorse. "Our message to our people has been consistent: no aggression and no retaliation. This is a test of our Christian faith; a time to be Christ-like."
However, he also warned the people’s patience was wearing thin, adding: "How long this endurance by affected Christians will last is what I cannot easily tell."
The archbishop’s statement came after Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso-Ndagoso of Kaduna gave a press conference immediately after the blast, calling for calm and appealing to youth not to retaliate. A separate report from UK-based human rights organization, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, stated eyewitness reports saying that after being denied entry at the church's gate, the bomber reversed his vehicle and crashed into the church's wall before detonating.
The massacre comes only two days after young people from various religious faiths organized a celebration marking the Muslim feast Eid el-Kabir.
”This Sunday attack was totally unexpected. The degree of barbarism that comes with each attack is baffling. The suicide bomber came as a respectable person, well dressed and in a big car ready to kill and he did kill and injure many," Archbishop Kaigama stated.