, 20 August, 2020 / 10:20 PM
The Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria has called on the government to address the “antagonism” between Christians and Muslims in the West African country and enforce the rule of law saying the faithful of both religions suffer equally from the reported skirmishes in the country.
“There is too much violence in Nigeria and the law seems not being enforced to bring the people to respect the law, respect the life and properties of everybody,” Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi said according to a report by Nigeria’s Vanguard News Thursday, August 20.
“The mission of the state is to protect lives and we have to stop the problem of antagonism between Christians and Muslims,” Archbishop Filipazzi said and probed, “What is the state doing to ensure the security of lives and properties of the people?”
Singling out the reported crisis in Southern Kaduna, the Representative of the Holy Father in Nigeria said, “Although Southern Kaduna is an area where Christians and Catholics are in bigger number, it is important to note that many Muslims are being killed in the other parts of the North like Maiduguri where Boko Haram had bombed many mosques.”
The Italian-born Prelate who was speaking at a press conference in Our Lady and Saint Kizito Pastoral Centre in Osogbo Diocese added, “We should not be particular that only Christians are killed, Muslims are also victims.”
Rather than focusing on the friction between Christians and Muslims, the Nigerian government should concentrate on protecting the citizenry from the ongoing violence, Archbishop Filipazzi said.
The Nuncio is the latest Catholic Church leader to express concerns about increasing cases of insecurity in Africa’s most populous nation.
On the Solemnity of the Assumption, August 15, Pope Francis prayed for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Mother of Hope,” for persecuted Christians in Nigeria and for peace in conflicts in Africa.
“Today I would like to pray in particular for the population of the northern region of Nigeria, victims of violence and terrorist attacks,” the Holy Father said in his Angelus address August 15.
Describing the Virgin Mary as “Mother of hope,” Pope Francis added, “Let us invoke her intercession for all the situations in the world that are most in need of hope: hope for peace, for justice, hope for a dignified life.”
On August 8, Catholic Bishops in the West African nation issued a statement decrying the “increasing insecurity and unabated acts of terrorism in Northern Nigeria” and called on the government to bring the violence to a stop.
“Where there is no justice or justice is not seen to be done, there cannot be peace. Where there is no peace, there cannot be development. Any Government, State or Federal that wants peace must work for justice for everyone,” the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said.
The Bishops also announced a 40-day prayer period to seek for God’s intervention in ending the security crisis in the country in their August 8 statement.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has declared August 23 a day to offer collective prayers, seeking God’s intervention for the people of God in Africa’s most populous nation.
In their August 13 collective statement, the members of CAN urge churches in Nigeria to set aside at least 15 minutes prayer.
“Please be informed that there will be a collective prayer session at least 15 minutes, for Nigeria on the 23rd August, 2020,” CAN members announced.
They recalled in their collective statement, “Since the beginning of the year, CAN has consistently called on churches in Nigeria to embark on a joint offering of special prayers within a specific period of time and dates, to seek divine intervention on the insecurity challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic which has crippled activities since the beginning of 2020.”
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