“Continue to live Gospel message with fidelity, courage”: Pope to Ondo Diocese, Nigeria

Pope Francis prays with journalists on a papal flight August 14, 2014. | Alan Holdren.

Pope Francis has encouraged the leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo in Nigeria and the people of God there to remain faithful to the Gospel message, which they need to continue defending with courage.

In a Monday, June 6 telegram, Pope Francis reacts to the Pentecost Sunday attack on St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese that involved gunmen who reportedly fired at Catholic worshippers and detonated explosives. Reports indicate that dozens were killed,  some Nigerian media reporting that many children were among the dead.

In the telegram from the Vatican Secretary of State, the Holy Father says he is praying “for the conversion of those blinded by hatred and violence.”

“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the horrific attack at St. Francis Church in Owo, and he assures you and all those affected by this act of unspeakable violence of his spiritual closeness,” Pietro Cardinal Parolin says in the message addressed to Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade of Ondo Diocese.

The Vatican Secretary of State adds, “In commending the souls of the dead to the loving mercy of Almighty God and imploring divine healing and consolation upon the injured and those who are grieving, His Holiness prays for the conversion of those blinded by hatred and violence so that they will choose instead the path of peace and righteousness.”


“Upon you and the faithful of the diocese, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength as you continue to live the Gospel message with fidelity and courage,” Cardinal Parolin says.

In a press release issued June 5, the Director of the Holy See press said that Pope Francis “learned of the attack on the church in Ondo, Nigeria, and the death of dozens of faithful, many children, during the celebration of Pentecost.”

“While the details of the incident are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and for the country, painfully affected in a moment of celebration, and entrusts both to the Lord, to send his Spirit to comfort them,” Matteo Bruni added.

In a June 5 statement, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria condemned the Pentecost Sunday massacre and called on the Federal government to “hunt down” the criminals behind the attack and “bring them to book”.

In another reaction to the Pentecost Sunday attack, officials of the Catholic Pontifical foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, expressed deep shock and said the incident is part of the “crimes against Christians” in the West African nation.

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Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.