Pentecost Sunday Massacre in Nigeria “sad, satanic, raw persecution”: Christian Leaders

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The Pentecost Sunday attack on St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish of Ondo Diocese that left at least 50 people dead was a “satanic” and “raw persecution” of Catholic worshippers, church leaders under the auspices of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have said.

In a Sunday, June 5 statement obtained by ACI Africa, CAN officials who include representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) call upon security agencies to track down the perpetrators and apprehend them.

The attack on the Catholic worshippers “is sad, wrong, condemnable, outrageous, unacceptable and satanic,” CAN officials say.

They add, “There is no explanation for this unprovoked attack and assault on a place of worship. This is raw persecution.”

“These people are possessed, demonic and are not working for the good of the country. May God descend heavily on them and fight these mindless agents of Satan from their roots in Jesus’ name,” the church leaders say.


The June 5 attack involved gunmen who reportedly fired at the Catholic worshippers and detonated explosives. Some local media in Nigeria have reported that children were among the victims.

In their June 5 statement, the representatives of Christian leaders in Nigeria urge president Muhammadu Buhari to revisit the de-radicalizing program, as well as his soft approach towards dealing with terrorism, and stop recycling criminals and terrorists in the West African country.

The leadership of CAN poses, “If the program is not counterproductive, how come the criminalities are always on the increase and nowhere is safe again?”

“This menace of insecurity has gotten out of hand and is embarrassingly sore. Criminals are operating with impunity all over the country and unfortunately our government appears to be so busy with the 2023 general election that it has no time for the unending killings in the country,” CAN officials say.

Expressing their condolences to the families of the victims of the attack, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) and the Ondo State Government, CAN officials question the kind of legacy the government and security agencies want to leave behind “for the unborn generation”.

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“What legacy is the government and those who are the managers of our security architecture leaving behind for the unborn generation? We are praying for the government and the security agencies to get it right before it will be too late,” they say in the June 5 statement.

The leadership of CAN urges President Buhari-led government to refrain from issuing mere statements but to take action against the perpetrators of violence.

They pose, “If the Federal government is not interested in the State Police, what efforts are being put in place to arrest this unpleasant situation? We call on the State Governors to meet with the President to find the lasting solution to these killings.”

In a statement hours after the Pentecost Sunday attack, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria expressed their condemnation of the massacre, and called on the Federal government to hunt down the criminals behind the attack and “bring them to book”.

“Nowhere seems to be safe again in our country; not even the sacred precincts of a Church,” the president of CBCN said in the June 5 report, and added, “We condemn in the strongest terms the spilling of innocent blood in the House of God.”.


Archbishop-elect Lucius Ugorji further said in reference to those behind the massacre at St. Francis Xavier Owo Catholic Parish, “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.”

In another reaction to the massacre, officials of the Catholic Pontifical foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, expressed deep shock, and said that the incident is part of the “crimes against Christians” in the West African nation.

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

They added 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.”

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.