Terror Attacks Won’t Stop Christians From Worshipping God, Says Kaigama
The Catholic Archbishop of the Abuja Metropolitan Archdiocese, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, yesterday said no amount of threats or attacks on the church would stop Christians in the country from worshipping God.
Speaking on the commemoration of June 12 Democracy Day, Kaigama said the celebration would have been a very joyful one but for the unabating corruption in the electoral process.
Against the background of the recent unprovoked attack and killings of worshippers at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State, Kaigama urged Christians to remain steadfast in faith, worshipping God and in speaking the truth.
The Archbishop spoke while delivering his homily to parishioners of St. Augustine’s Parish, Dutse-Sangbagyi, in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Kaigama said it was common knowledge that some other prominent religious leaders and other Nigerians had suffered similar fate, yet, very little had been done to identify the culprits or to take solid proactive measures to stop the next attack.
“Following last Sunday’s unprovoked attack and killings of worshippers at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State, one is tempted to ask if the motive was a deliberate attempt to scare us away from worshipping God our way.
“If that was the aim, my beloved parishioners, I am here to encourage you to remain steadfast in faith and to continue to gather like this in worship irrespective of the series of unprovoked attacks and killings we have suffered over the years.
“If these persistent attacks on the catholic church by those who kill and believe they are offering an excellent service to God are meant to scare us not to worship again or to speak out in favour of justice, it should be clear that nothing will stop us worshipping God and speaking the truth,” he said.
The Archbishop recounted that on the 11th of March, 2012, 14 people were killed in a bomb attack on Finbarr’s Catholic Church, Rayfield, Jos, Plateau State.
He also recollected the Christmas-day suicide bomb-attack in 2011, on St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State followed, which led to the killing of 39 parishioners.
He also said on September 23, 2012, a suicide-bomber drove a car into the Church gate of St. John’s Catholic Cathedral, Bauchi, Bauchi State, killing four worshippers and injuring over 40. Similarly, Kaigama pointed out that on April 24th, 2018, two catholic priests and 17 parishioners were killed at St. Ignatius’ Catholic Church during the Holy Mass in Ukpor-Mbalom Parish, Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.
According to Kaigama several priests have been kidnapped, some killed and some still in captivity, including Rev. Sisters, seminarians, catechists and lay faithful.
He said there had been several efforts and initiatives deliberately to foster interreligious harmony.
He said the church has established specialised universities in Islam and Arabic studies deliberately to foster interreligious harmony, with the Pope in the forefront.
“Many wonder why the concentration of attacks on the catholic church, knowing that the catholic church is in the forefront of interreligious dialogue, and is famous for its social services, educational and medical work.
“It is well known too that the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, the organ of administration of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria has structures such as Justice, Development and Peace departments, concerned with social justice issues, democracy and credible elections.
“The interreligious department engages Muslims and followers of the African Traditional Religions in dialogue. Many of our priests have studied African Traditional Religion and Islam,” he said.
Kaigama lamented the inability of relevant government authorities to unmask the unknown gunmen who have earned the diabolic distinction of murdering innocent people without qualms, adding that the fact that God has not punished them instantly does not mean he does not know who they are or where they are.
He also said the fact that Christians had refused to retaliate does not mean that they were cowards or “don’t know how to use destructive weapons; but because we see the evil attackers as children of God in need of salvation.”
“It is not conceivable that without provocation, defenseless people worshipping their God on a Pentecost Sunday, not wielding guns other than the weapon of prayer could be gunned down.
“It is more disheartening that there are no immediate verifiable security evidence of who the attackers are and this continues to happen, with increasing frequency to the extent that people are no longer able to feel safe in places of worship, at home, on the streets, in the farms, at markets and schools; yet, all that our leaders care about now is guaranteeing their political future, and oblivious of the rude happenings, they go on to spend incredible amounts in both local and foreign currencies to get elected,” he said
On the commemoration of June 12 Democracy Day, Kaigama said: “We should be joyfully celebrating democracy Day today, 12th June, but how can we when corruption seems to be institutionalised in a manner that it is okay to spend humongous amounts of money to influence voters and still believe that if such people are elected to political power they will provide transparent governance with honest economic policies.
“How do we celebrate in the midst of escalating prices of essential commodities, hunger and unemployment? How do we celebrate democracy when yet-to-be-identified gunmen pose such a grievous setback in our march towards harmonious and peaceful co-existence?
“How do we celebrate when corrupt governance and insecurity threaten the present and future of Nigerians?”
The Archbishop who administered the sacrament of confirmation on 613 candidates at the parish, prayed that the Holy Spirit may touch the hearts of mankind and establish bonds of love among God’s people in the image of the Holy Trinity.