Archbishop Decries Religious Fanaticism in Nigeria, Says Priests Killed Barbarically

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama during Holy Mass at St. Michael’s Parish, Kagini of Abuja Archdiocese. Credit: Abuja Archdiocese

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja in Nigeria has decried the increasing division in the country, noting that Catholic Priests are being killed “in the most barbaric manner” owing to what he describes as “religious fanaticism and ethnic bigotry” in the West African nation.

Referring to the Second Reading of Sunday, January 22 from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama said, “Paul appealed for harmony because where Christ is present, there should be a spirit of unity, solidarity, and collaboration instead of divisions and rivalries. The division Paul referred to was perhaps less destructive than what we have in our country.”

“Our crisis is incubated in religious fanaticism and ethnic bigotry, hatching grievous social disorder, whereby Priests are killed in the most barbaric manner and citizens attacked, kidnapped or killed regularly,” the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop said in his January 22 homily.

He lamented that perpetrators of what he described as “devilish acts” in Nigeria are never identified and dealt with as a deterrent to others.

Archbishop Kaigama found it regrettable that Nigeria is increasingly polarized along various lines, and underscored the urgency of the message of repentance in the West African country.


“Preaching the message of repentance is an urgent and important message for us because we live in a society that is so polarized along political, religious, and ethnic lines,” the Archbishop of Abuja said.

He added, “We must learn to rise beyond the little things that divide us, to embrace and appreciate those basic things that unite us. With our behavior, unique talents, and distinctive attributes, each one of us is needed to enrich the kingdom of God; to bear witness to the gospel message.”

In his message on the Sunday of the Word of God, Archbishop Kaigama said, “We are reminded of not only knowing and appreciating the Word of God, but also in proclaiming it in our respective communities, schools, workplaces, families, circles of friends and acquaintances, and even to strangers whom we encounter daily in our lives.”

“We cannot however be effective carriers of the good news unless we have a good understanding of the Scriptures,” the Catholic Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Jalingo Diocese said.

Special emphasis on the Sunday of the Word of God, he said, is to be made on the celebration, study, and dissemination of the Word of God. 

More in Africa

“St. Jerome’s popular saying: ‘Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ’ is very apt,” Archbishop Kaigama said, and added, “When we ignore the Scripture, we ignore one of those pillars on which the Church stands and we can neither grow in the knowledge of God nor holiness.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.