“Your pain is our pain,” Bishops in Southern Africa Condole with Ondo Diocese in Nigeria

Credit: SACBC

Catholic Bishops in Southern Africa have expressed their solidarity with the people of God of  Ondo Diocese in Nigeria following the massacre of dozens of worshippers during Pentecost Sunday Eucharistic celebration at St. Francis Xavier Owo Parish.

In a Monday, June 6 statement shared with ACI Africa, members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) decry the fact that the mass killings occurred on the Solemnity of Pentecost when “we celebrate a model of unity of humanity.”

Your pain is our pain,” the Catholic Church leaders in Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa tell the people of God in Ondo Diocese in their statement signed by SACBC President, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka.

We stand with you in solidarity of prayer for peace,” SACBC members further say, and extend their “condolences also to our many Nigerian brothers and sisters living in Southern Africa.” SACBC members say.

They join Pope Francis in conveying condolences and closeness “to the Church in Nigeria and to the relatives of those who lost their lives.”


The Catholic Church leaders say that it is “most disheartening and contradictory that when we celebrate a model of unity of humanity where: nations could talk and hear each other in their own language, we are facing a situation where one group chooses to eliminate and kill.”

They implore in reference to the Pentecost Sunday attack that involved gunmen who fired at the Catholic worshippers and detonated explosives resulting in the death of dozens, “May the blood of those who died celebrating the unity of humanity on Pentecost day serve as an impetus for peace and may their Souls Rest in Peace.”

“The Church in Southern Africa and the Church in Nigeria are one body in Christ,” SACBC members say, and, quoting the Gospel of St. Matthew, condole with those directly affected by the June 5 church massacre as they “weep and greatly mourn because your innocent brothers and sisters are no more.” 

In their June 6 statement, SACBC members regret the fact that the June 5 attack on Catholic worships and other crimes targeting the people of God are not unique to Nigeria “but are prevalent in many African countries.”

“What is concerning is the failure of the media and other stakeholders to dig deeper into the causes of these murderous conflicts so that they can be dealt with for what they are,” SACBC members say.

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They call upon the leadership of Nigeria and those responsible for killings in Africa’s most populous nation “to deal with conflict issues and work for peace.”

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.