Pope Francis Cautions Nigerian Youth against Passivity amid “fundamentalism, terrorism”

Pope Francis during the virtual dialogue with African Catholic students on Tuesday, November 1. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Pope Francis has cautioned the youth in Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, against the temptation to not resist the challenges they are experiencing in their country, including “fundamentalism, terrorism and banditry”.

Pope Francis who was responding to Osemeke Augustine Chidera’s question about how the youth to remain hopeful amid multiple cases of fundamentalism, terrorism and banditry in Nigeria during the Monday, November 1 virtual dialogue with Catholic university students from Africa urged the youth in the Western African nation to build their lives around “tangible religious doctrine”.

“I am concerned with the issue of fundamentalism, terrorism and banditry that you are facing in Nigeria,” Pope Francis said, and added, “I think young people cannot be passive, you need to resist, you need to have religious doctrine, you need to be trained in real, tangible religious doctrine.”

Banditry and terrorism lead not only to “social suicide” but also “affects the country’s ultimate survival”, Pope Francis said during the virtual initiative that Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN) organized.

The November 1 virtual dialogue brought together students from 34 universities drawn from nine African countries. These were the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congo Brazzaville, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast.


The dialogue between Pope Francis and representatives of Catholic university students from Africa touched on a myriad of issues including faith and spirituality, the African philosophy of Ubuntu, which emphasizes that “I am because we are”, as well as the aspect of human solidarity.

In his presentation, Mr. Chidera expressed concern about the violence in Nigeria. He said he found it regrettable that terrorism and banditry attacks in Nigeria and the Sahel region are mostly carried out by radicalized youth.

“The rise of terrorism does not affect Nigeria alone, but also the region of Sahel and Africa as a continent and is carried out by young men and women who have been manipulated and cajoled into embracing the life of terrorism and wickedness,” he said.

In his response, Pope Francis called for unity among the youth in the fight against the challenges of “fundamentalism, terrorism and banditry”.

“It is not easy to counter banditry but you have to be active, cautious and also firm in your hearts and be aware of the fact that you cannot do it alone; you need to join forces and be organized,” Pope Francis said.

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He added that “through resistance, organization and political work with caution and wisdom” and embracing God’s love, the youth in Nigeria will be fortified to continue the fight against the vices. 

The Holy Father went on to encourage the youth in Nigeria “to learn from your elders, ask for their suggestions, and their guidance.”

He also encourages the youth to work towards finding “a political doctrine that stems from the people themselves without having anybody from outside to come and tell you what to do.”

“Politics is a highest form of charity because it is something, which strives towards common good,” the Pope said, adding that “Young people, given the enthusiasm, can do something in political terms.”

To be able to initiate change in politics, the Holy Father said the youths need to have a deep understanding of the hitches of the country’s politics in order to avoid making dangerous errors in the process.


“As a way of making sure that you don’t make mistakes, train yourselves, prepare yourselves with deep political understanding as to why your country’s individual people cannot imitate others that they have to find their own way,” Pope Francis said during the November 1 two-hour virtual dialogue with Catholic University students from Africa.

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.