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Bishops of Nigeria’s Kaduna Province Deplore Religious Extremism, Urge “nobility of faith”

Bishops of Nigeria’s Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province with the Chiefs of Kagoro and the Emir of Jama’a in Southern Kaduna. Credit: Archdiocese of Kaduna

The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria’s Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province have bemoaned the heightened insecurity orchestrated by religious extremists in the West African nation and called on the people of God in the country to stand together and reclaim “nobility of faith.” 

In their pastoral statement issued Sunday, August 15, the Catholic Bishops say the States in Northern Nigeria, covered by the Ecclesiastical Province, have been the most affected by the tragedies that range from kidnapping to loss of human life. 

“Today, our country, entrusted to us by God has been consumed by forces of darkness and death. We all know that sadly, the perpetrators of these evils are constantly appealing to the religion of Islam to validate their criminality,” the Bishops say. 

“This madness has cast a dark spell on the nobility of faith,” the Catholic Church leaders say and lament that for this reason, “more and more citizens are losing faith in God because of the way religion has been abused in our country.”

Nigeria has been experiencing insecurity since 2009 when the Boko Haram insurgency began with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic nation.

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The militia, one of largest Islamist groups in Africa, has been orchestrating indiscriminate attacks on various targets, including religious and political groups as well as civilians.

The country’s insecurity has been worsened by the involvement of the largely Muslim Fulani herdsmen, also known as the Fulani Militia, who have been clashing frequently with Christians.

In their August 15 statement signed by Archbishop Matthew Man’so Ndagoso and Bishop John Namaza Niyiring, the Chairman and Secretary of the Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province respectively, the Catholic Bishops bemoan the fact that Christians as well as other Nigerians have “suffered tremendously since we entered this ugly face in the life of our nation.”

“Our Church leaders have been kidnapped, tortured and in some cases, gruesomely murdered for no reason other than that they bear the cross of Christ,” they say.

In the face of insecurity challenges, the Catholic Bishops of Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province urge all believers in Africa’s most populous nation to “stand together in brotherhood and sisterhood to redeem our faiths.”

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They also urge religious leaders in the West African nation to “stand together in their total condemnation of this evil.”

The Catholic Bishops declare a week of prayer and fasting from August 15 through August 22 and further call upon all Catholic faithful “to stand firmly committed to a life of obedience to the will of God by prayer and adoration as they lift up their hands to God in thanksgiving at all times.” 

“We appeal to you to note what the holy rosary has done in times of crisis, from the battle of Lepanto to the collapse of the Soviet Union,” they say and encourage Catholics to continually pray for their country, Nigeria.

They say, “Like the walls of Jericho, we believe that in the end, these walls of evil will collapse based on our faith, not physical weapons. We are convinced that when these dark clouds clear, we will emerge stronger and victorious.”

To the Christians of other denominations, the Catholic Bishops of Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province urge to unite in prayer with Catholics. 

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“We appeal to all who call on the name of Jesus to unite with us in prayer so that amidst these tragedies, our faith will not be shaken and the cross of Jesus will bring us victory and glory to our land. We have borne a lot, but we are not bowed. The cross of Jesus is before us,” they say. 

The Bishops also caution all followers of Christ against bearing bitterness against anyone.