Forgiving “genuinely, quickly only way to end” Nigeria’s Multifront Violence: Archbishop

Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama during Holy Mass at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral of Abuja Archdiocese. Credit: Abuja Archdiocese

The practice of forgiveness is the “only way” to bring an end to violence in Nigeria, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of the country’s Abuja Archdiocese has said. 

In his homily at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral of his Metropolitan See, Archbishop Kaigama advocated for genuine and quick forgiveness, and cautioned Nigerians against “poorly practiced” forgiveness, inviting them to “a change of heart”.

“Our situation in Nigeria invites us to undergo a change of heart and to learn to forgive genuinely and quickly too as the only way to end political, religious, and ethnic violence which badly retard our effort in building a just and peaceful society devoid of rancor, hatred, and strife,” he said during his Sunday, September 17 homily.

The Nigerian Catholic Archbishop faulted the way forgiveness is practiced in Africa’s most populous nation, saying, “In the Nigerian society, made up of adherents of Christianity, Islam, and African Traditional Religion where forgiveness is professed, it is very poorly practiced.”

“Some of the recurring communal clashes and violent conflicts” in Nigeria, he said, emanate from “bitterness” and “an unforgiving spirit”.


Archbishop Kaigama continued, “While it is understood that there may be good grounds to feel hurt or aggrieved, either because we have been falsely accused, suffered maltreatment and other situations of social injustice, our refusal to forgive makes us no better than publicans.

According to the 65-year-old Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 as the Bishop of Nigeria’s Jalingo Diocese, “Forgiveness does not take away the hurt or deny the past injury, but it means being willing to overcome the barriers that stand in the way of mending a strained relationship.”

Making reference to the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Matthew on the unforgiving servant who had earlier had his debt canceled, he compared the merciless behavior of the servant to those involved in Nigeria’s “gruesome attacks and destruction rooted in ethnic, political, religious bigotry and polemic writings.”

“We need forgiveness in the family, in marital relationships, inter-religious coexistence, and friendship. Forgiveness heals and enables us to rise above prejudices to embrace each other in love,” the Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese since November 2019 said.

He cited Jesus’ practice of forgiveness as recorded in scriptures, including the encounter with the adulterous woman, and the paralytic of Capernaum, and called upon Nigerians to “emulate Him in love and not be consumed by anger and bitterness.”

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“We cannot claim to be true and genuine Christians unless our lives, our every word, actions, and interactions with one another show the kind of love, compassion, and mercy that God Himself has shown us,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He added, “We don’t use mathematics or arithmetic in forgiveness, nor do we need a calculator. As God forgives us our heinous crimes and sins, we must learn to always forgive others.”

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.