Bishops in Nigeria Urge State to “hunt down” Criminals Behind Pentecost Sunday Massacre

The altar St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese after the 5 June 2022 attack. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have condemned the Pentecost Sunday attack on St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese that left at least 50 people killed and are calling on the Federal government to hunt down the criminals behind the attack and “bring them to book”.

The June 5 attack involved gunmen who reportedly fired at the Catholic worshippers and detonated explosives. Several media in Nigeria have reported the incident, some indicating that many children were among the dead.

In a statement issued Sunday, June 5, the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) says he “received the news of the bloody attack unleashed on innocent worshippers at … with great shock and sadness.”

“Nowhere seems to be safe again in our country; not even the sacred precincts of a Church,” Archbishop-elect Lucius Ugorji says, and adds, “We condemn in the strongest terms the spilling of innocent blood in the House of God.”

“The criminals responsible for such a sacrilegious and barbaric act demonstrate their lack of the sense of the sacred and the fear of the God,” the Nigerian Archbishop-elect says.


He adds in reference to those behind the Pentecost Sunday attack, “We call on the government to hunt them down and bring them to book. If the government fails to act decisively on such a grave matter, it would be encouraging the descent of anarchy on our nation.”

The Muhammadu Buhari-led government, he says, “should rise to its primary responsibility of securing the life and property of its citizens. The world is watching us! Above all, God is also watching us.”

Archbishop-elect Ugorji continues, “At this dark and trying time, we commiserate with the Diocese of Ondo and implore God to grant eternal rest to the dead, speedy recovery to the wounded and consolation to families mourning the death of their beloved ones.”

In a statement shared with ACI Africa June 5, the Director of Social Communications in Ondo Diocese confirmed the attack and said that the Local Ordinary, Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, is calling on the people of God under his pastoral care to “be law abiding”.

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

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“ACN denounces this outburst of violence, yet another terrorist act in Nigeria, one more on the long list of crimes against Christians,” ACN officials say in the June 5 statement shared with ACI Africa.

They note that Nigeria in general has been “rocked by episodes of violence, banditry and kidnappings that, although affecting all ethnic and religious groups in the nation, have led to a long list of major attacks on the Christian community over the last few decades.”

“Just last week Aid to the Church in Need organized a press conference with Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso, Archbishop of Kaduna, to speak about the insecurity and the violence in Nigeria,” ACN officials recall.

They continue, “Although the problems come from a variety of directions, Archbishop Matthew stated clearly: The government has failed us completely; it is the absence of good government that is causing this. Bandits, Boko Haram, kidnappings, these are all symptoms of injustice, of the corruption that is in the system. Unless we can get to the root of the issue, we will be fighting a losing battle.”

“The massacre took place in the southwest of Nigeria, a place that hasn’t been affected until now by the insecurity and violence which generally affect the north and the Middle Belt,” ACN officials further say.


While the problem may be mostly internal, ACN Officials cite Archbishop Ndagoso as saying that the West “is also to blame”.

They say that the Nigerian Archbishop had explained, “It takes two to tango. Our leaders steal our money and take it to the West, to Switzerland, Paris, London, Frankfurt. If the West didn’t accept their money, they would leave it at home. The Western governments collaborate with our leaders.”

In their June 5 statement, ACN officials call “on all political and religious leaders in the world to firmly and explicitly condemn” the Pentecost Sunday terrorist attack.

“The thoughts and prayers of ACN are with the victims, with the injured, their families and the entire Catholic community in Ondo,” they add in their statement shared with ACI Africa.

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.