Protests amid “uncivilized conduct of looting, arson” Saddening: Nigerian Archbishop

A demonstrator sits on a barricade blocking a road near the Lagos State House, despite a round-the-clock curfew imposed by the authorities on the Nigerian state of Lagos in response to protests against alleged police brutality, Nigeria.
Credit: Reuters

Reports of looting and destruction of property amid nationwide protests in Nigeria have “saddened” the Archbishop of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese who has recalled the initially youth-led peaceful demonstrations against the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

“I am very saddened by the news of uncivilized conduct of looting and arson that have gone on in parts of the country these past days,” Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama said in his Sunday, October 25 homily at St. Mary Magdalene Parish of the Archdiocese of Abuja.

He reflected on the beginnings of the protests saying, “The youths embarked on a peaceful protest demanding an end to police brutality, the protection of lives, decorum in conduct by those in authority, accountability, good governance, etc.”

It was the peaceful nature of the youth-led protests that members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) issued a collective statement October 17 expressing their solidarity “with these youths and everyone who legitimately cries for justice.”

“Following the protests, some youths have been gunned down. Miscreants and hoodlums hiding under the #Endsars movement has destroyed very valuable private and public properties across the country,” Archbishop Kaigama lamented October 25.

Making reference to the Sunday’s Gospel reading that had Jesus say that the love of God and the love of neighbor were the greatest commandments, the Nigerian Archbishop said, “I feel so sad about what is happening in our nation. We keep preaching love over and over.”

“We are very religious; we hear sermons preached every Sunday in Churches and in Mosques on Fridays, yet we return home forgetting that we should be kind, patient, gentle and forgiving to one another,” he said in his October 25 homily.

The 62-year-old Nigerian Archbishop went on to express his displeasure at unhealthy interpersonal relationships in Africa’s most populous country saying, “Look at what we do to one another. It is not just about the militants who kill, kidnappers who kidnap, bandits who terrorize, but how even we ‘normal’ people treat ourselves or our neighbors.”

He also joined the members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) in seeking to clarify Pope Francis’ suggestion to have “civil union laws” for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), a remark that has triggered a series of controversies since the documentary “Francesco” was released October 21.

“In teaching about the love that cares, the Holy Father, Pope Francis talks about everyone being precious to God,” Archbishop Kaigama said, and explained, “The Pope is simply saying that because the love which springs from Jesus is patient, kind, forgiving and all inclusive, sinners including drunkards, prostitutes, murderers, thieves, etc. should be shown love and given mercy.”

A Christian is called to “show hospitality not hostility; to love the sinner, but to hate the sin, to have and show love that is real, true and consistent,” the Archbishop of Abuja said, adding, “We all have a duty and responsibility towards one another, our youths, our families and larger society.”

“We need to create a society that cares about every citizen, where no one is considered useless or second class or outcast, less valuable, less educated, less civilized, less human, etc.,” Archbishop Kaigama said October 25.


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