Let’s “bridge the gap” of Disunity Despite Religious Biases: Nigerian Catholic Archbishop

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese. Credit: Archdiocese of Abuja/Facebook.

The Archbishop of Nigeria’s Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja has called upon the people of God in the West African country to keep struggling for unity and peace despite challenges that originate from biases based on religion, ethnicity, and “other artificial categorizations”.

In his Sunday homily at St. Louis Pastoral Area of the Archdiocese of Abuja in Nigeria, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama made reference to the May 12 stoning and murder of Deborah Yakubu, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, and said that religious values should not be redefined with fanatics.

“Together, we must not give up on the struggle, to continue to bridge the gap that keeps us far apart because of religious bias, ethnic rivalry and other artificial categorizations,” Archbishop Kaigama said in his Sunday, May 15 homily.

The Nigerian Archbishop said that the murder of Deborah, who was accused of making blasphemous statements about the Prophet Muhammad, has attracted condemnation from many Christians and Muslims. He said it is a good gesture to speak in one voice.

Citing a Muslim who is said to have noted that “love is the first religion,” Archbishop Kaigama said, “We must continue to speak up in a common voice and act in solidarity with one another against the evils of our time.”


He made reference to the May 12 conference convened by the Muslim World League (MWL), in support of the Vatican and evangelical churches among other religious entities and said that the conference rejected an “inevitable clash of civilizations” that emanates from religious issues.

The Catholic Archbishop said in reference to the communiqué of the delegates of the MWL conference, “They also agreed that attempts to gain religious, cultural, political and economic advantages without respect for rights or ethics, and thorough forms of extremism, arrogance and racism, must be opposed.”

He said that love, as taught in Christianity, Islam, and the African Traditional Religions entails not only mutual support but compassion and cooperation towards a peaceful coexistence.

“Our love for one another challenges us to break down the walls of enmity, hatred, apathy, disunity, segregation and strife that have torn families, communities, races, and nations apart,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He added, “Love for religion, politics, and culture or for whatever cause must never make us take the life of another person, a life we did not create.”

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The Local Ordinary of Abuja Archdiocese reflected on St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and said that anything done outside love is not Godly and that hatred towards a brother or sister on the basis of religion or ethnic background erodes the true meaning of love.

“I may be able to speak in the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clashing cymbal…. I may give away everything that I have, and even give up my body to be burned, but if I have no love, this does me no good,” he said, making reference to St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

Archbishop Kaigama explained, “There can be no true religion without love and there can be no genuinely religious person without the practice of true love. We, who call ourselves religious, must wear the ‘garment of love.’”

He continued, “In a world of so much hate and strife, love is the cure. In a world of violence and tension, love is the cure. In a world of sin and vice, love remains the cure. In our world of immorality and wickedness, only love is the cure. In our world of unforgiveness and bitterness, love and only love is the remedy.”

The 63-year-old Nigerian Archbishop encouraged the Catholic faithful to utilize the month of May, which is the month of the Holy Rosary, to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary “to continue to teach us to love one another without prejudices or pre-conditions.”


In an earlier report, Archbishop Kaigama advocated for dialogue in obtaining peace in Nigeria. The Archbishop who was speaking at the Maiden Edition of an International Conference on Interreligious Dialogue at Veritas University Nigeria said that “peace is never achieved on a battlefield but on the table of dialogue.”.

“Nigeria with its history of misunderstanding, uncertainties and deliberate attempts to distort history, facts about population, everyone playing the victim, must see genuine dialogue as condition sine qua non,” the Catholic Archbishop said May 12.

“The era of constant battle is over and the era of dialogue and consensus has been established,” Archbishop Kaigama said during the conference that was held under the theme, “Rethinking Interfaith, Cultural, Ecumenical and Religious Dialogue in a Nigeria's Pluralistic Context.” 

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.