Pope Francis Condemns Abduction of Hundreds of Nigerian Schoolgirls, Expresses Solidarity

Pope Francis addressing faithful gathered at St. Peter's Square, Vatican on February 28.

Pope Francis has condemned last week’s kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria’s Ecclesiastical Province of Kaduna, describing it as “vile abduction.”

In his message after Angelus on Sunday, February 28, the Holy Father also expressed his solidarity with the girls and their respective family members.

“Dear brothers and sisters! I join my voice with that of the Bishops of Nigeria to condemn the vile abduction of 317 girls, taken away from their school, to Jangebe, in the Northwest of the country,” Pope Francis said.

He added, “I pray for these girls, that they may return home soon. I am close to their families and to the girls themselves.”

The Holy Father went on to lead the audience gathered at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square in seeking Our Lady’s intercession for the girls’ safety, reciting the prayer of the “Hail Mary.”


The 317 girls were abducted on Friday, February 26 night when gunmen stormed Jangebe Government Girls’ Secondary School in Zamfara State at around 1.00 a.m. local time and started shooting indiscriminately.

According to the State’s Information Commissioner, Sulaiman Tanau Anka, the gunmen escaped with the girls using vehicles as well as on foot.

Nigeria’s security forces have since launched a search for the girls.

The February 26 kidnapping comes days after a similar incident in the neighboring State of Niger where bandits attacked a Government Science Secondary School in the District of Kagara and abducted 42 people, among them 27 students, three members of staff, and 12 members of their families.

One student reportedly died during the February 17 incident, which occurred within the Ecclesiastical Province of Kaduna.

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The 42 were released on February 27 and received by officials of the State government, Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello tweeted.

Following the February 17 kidnapping, Catholic Bishops in the West African country expressed concerns about what they termed “persistent crises” bedeviling Nigerians, saying “the nation is falling apart.”

Highlighting kidnappings, assassinations, banditry, armed robberies, and murders among the multiple “persistent crisis,” the members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) said, “We are really on the brink of a looming collapse. The nation is falling apart.”

In their February 23 statement obtained by ACI Africa, CBCN members noted “with deep sorrow” the insecurity in Niger State saying the developments in the region “expose our collective vulnerability.”

As a way forward, they recommended "a formal meeting of statesmen and women across the board for us to think through the challenges that seem poised to push us into the abyss."


They called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to "rise to its obligation to govern the nation; not according to ethnic and religious biases but along the lines of objective and positive principles of fairness, equity and above all, justice."

"We submit ourselves to the directives of God the Almighty Father to fill us with the wisdom and courage to pull back from this brink of collapse," CBCN members said in their collective statement.

On his part, the Archbishop of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese, Ignatius Kaigama has urged the people of God to “please pray also for the safe release of all kidnapped persons, especially the over 300 abducted school girls in Jangebe, Zamfara State.”

“We pray that our authorities will take more concrete and immediate measures to ensure a holistic national security,” Archbishop Kaigama said in his Sunday, February 28 homily at Holy Trinity, Maitama Parish of Abuja Archdiocese.