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Nigeria

 

ACN Success Story in Nigeria: Completion of St Patrick’s Cathedral!

07.10.2019 in Mgrs. Ignatius Kaigama, Nigeria

Nigeria

Completion of St Patrick’s Cathedral a Success!

By Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

In summer 2018 we at ACN Canada decided that it was important to talk to our Canadian benefactors, through a fundraiser, about Nigeria done later that year.  Why?

Some background. In early June, we received the charismatic Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, then archbishop of Jos, a village situated in a region of Nigeria called: ‘the Middle Belt’. On our trip across Canada with him, we learned in depth of the very difficult circumstances our brothers and sisters in Nigeria were facing, and also their determined spirit of interreligious peaceful dialogue and a strong desire to live their faith in the face of persecution, terrorism and near civil war. From these important discussions with Bishop Kaigama, a great desire to take action was born—a desire to give Nigerians hope! And so that’s what we went about doing. The response from our benefactors was touching—along with hundreds of letters of encouragement we transmitted directly to Archbishop Kaigama, hope poured into our post office box and website in the form of donations. Close to $300,500 was collected over the period of under six months.

 

 

Photo: Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme inspecting a burnt church in Bahuli community in Catholic diocese of Maiduguri.

One of the projects we were able to support for the church in need in Nigeria, is in the diocese of Maiduguri found in the Northeastern part of the country. The application for the completion of St. Patrick’s Cathedral came with pictures of the old cathedral grounds flooded out, as it did every rainy season. A bombing in 2011 had also affected every structure in the compound. In these pictures we can see that parts of the structure were already under construction, the flooring, the half-finished roof, all at this stage “purely funded locally” without any other kind of assistance. The diocese had applied to organizations and been refused. Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme having known ACN’s work previously turned to us and in his letter wrote: “We are aware of the fact that we should be building people and rendering humanitarian services, but the need for decent places of worship is too important as the faith of the persecuted church grows.”  He said, “the Cathedral project is a miracle to us and a testimony, that in the midst of the difficulties and challenges our people can demonstrate such faith, resilience and commitment.”

The Cathedral-Building Project Has Come to a Successful End

Not quite another year has gone by and the Cathedral project begun on August 26, 2015, is finally completed and the building original put in place in 1945 is given a new dedication and new life! ACN benefactor’s generosity has already had a tremendous impact. The new cathedral has a gallery capacity for 1,300 and the floor another 1,200 people. Among other things, a Chapel for Perpetual Adoration was added along with two rooms above the main sacristy for lectors and altar servers, staircases house four confessionals.

 

Rev. Father Dr John Bogna Bakeni said in his dedication speech “To the glory of God and sanctification of all Creation. The cathedral building project has come to a successful end. Thanks to the generosity and support of the parishioners and friends home and abroad especially Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) without whose support we would not have completed this project and dedicated it.”

 

Bishop Doeme writes in his letter to us: “Things might not have worked according to plans and estimates because of the downturn and instability of our economy, but we have managed to complete it. It would not have been possible without your support and the generosity of your benefactors.”

 

Thank you from the bottom or our hearts for giving the Catholic Church of Nigeria a little bit of hope.


 

ACN Iview: Nigeria When prejudices lead to distortions

29.07.2019 in Nigeria, Persecution of Christians, Religious freedom

 

Nigeria

When prejudices lead to distortions; or the aggressor easily pegged as a victim

In Nigeria, biased and prejudiced official security reports is a major problem heightening tension as victims are blamed instead of the aggressors, because of the Nigerian “factor” of tribal or religious affiliation.

 

A typical example in Nigeria: A militant herdsman vanishes after deadly attacks on a village. The poor villagers try to protect or defend themselves. Often, the villagers end up apprehended, detained and tortured by security forces as was the case with the “Kona” youths.

By Grace Attu
Revised for Canadian office : Amanda Bridget Griffin
Published on line : Monday 29th of July, 2019

The Co-adjutor Archbishop of Abuja and Apostolic Administrator of Jos Nigeria, Msgr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama made this known in a message released and made available to Aid to the Church in Need regarding the conflict which started on the May 6, 2019 as a clash between a Fulani herdsman and Jukun Kona Farmer at Yawai Abbare in Jalingo Local Government of Taraba State, Nigeria and lasted for more than a month. The conflict degenerated so badly that at in the end, 18 villages were attacked and burned, 65 persons were killed and 9000 displaced, 15 churches, two primary schools and a health care centre were also destroyed.

“It beats my imagination that in Nigeria when there is a misunderstanding, people tend to vent their anger and frustration on places of religious identity and worship, trying to give what is a social conflict a religious coloration. This is reprehensible. It is surprising too that those who claim to be “believers” would destroy places of worship and even take lives without the slightest compunction,” he said.

“As usual, what actually triggered the crisis will remain at the level of conjectures. The Fulani and the Kona are each telling their story in a manner that favours their ethnic group. This explains why, too often when a security authority adopts a particular narrative without factual, analytical and objective consideration of the stories peddled around, and comparing very well the narratives of the parties concerned, a distorted report could be made to the “oga at the top” or for the consumption of the public. In such cases the aggressor could easily become the victim while the victim becomes the aggressor!” he remarked. Msgr. Kaigama explained the reaction of security agents should have been prompt and devoid of what has sadly polarized Nigerians at all levels: religious and ethnic prejudices, but this was not the case.

Officers lack neutrality

According to him, the violence went on unchecked for a protracted period and the attempted attack on Kofai on June 16 provoked the Kona youths who felt that they had been neglected. They set up road blocks and out of anger and frustration tried to antagonize the soldiers. They claimed that they were shot at and arrested for rising in defense of their community against the marauding herdsmen. Kona women in their hundreds went on a peaceful demonstration to protest the killings and the harassment and detention of the Kona youths by the security agents while the real aggressors (gunmen) vanished after their deadly attacks.

Msgr Kaigama explained that when he heard about the helplessness of the people, he felt impelled to contact security personnel and top government officials for their intervention. He however expressed disappointment at the negative response he received from some.

“Of all the people I telephoned, it was the not so polite response, reaction and attitude of the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Taraba State in charge of operations that surprised me the most. In my nineteen years as the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, I have had a good working relationship with all the Police Commissioners, GOCs, SSS Directors, Civil Defence Commandants, Commanders of Operation Safe Havens posted to Plateau State, to the point that not too long ago after successfully working together to avert what would have been a great crisis and bloodshed in Jos, I invited them to my residence where we shared ideas, because of their commendable cooperation with the Church. Each time there was a new senior security officer in Jos they visited my office or we met at dialogue fora, such as the Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace (DREP) Centre which I founded in Jos in 2011.”

“It becomes obvious in some cases that security officers become prejudiced about what happened during a crisis,” he said. He further commended the response of the Vice President of the Country, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who listened to him and promised to act.

“I believe that my asking the Vice President to intervene led to the pronouncement by President Buhari on the 20th of June that Kona land and its people should be protected. Through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President condemned the attacks on the Kona people and warned that attacks on innocent people, in the name of revenge, or whatever motives, would not be tolerated by government. By God’s grace, there was some measure of peace,” he said.

Seeking peace through truth and reconciliation

Nigeria-5

 

“Only guerilla attacks now take place as farmers who attempt farming their farmlands are killed,” he continued, “three persons were killed the morning of my visit of July 10th.”

According to the Archbishop, the big question is: After the return of peace, what next? The people are displaced, no homes to return to, no farming activity possible, etc. Again, there is the anxious fear that the attacks could erupt again.

The Archbishop recalled that this Fulani/Kona crisis seems to be a replication of the event of the 1890s between the Jukun Kona people and the Fulani in Jalingo. This he said, has unfortunately escalated and worsened the relationship between these two tribes.

Something must therefore be done urgently and fairly to bridge the gap and heal the historical wounds. Genuine justice and reconciliation must be pursued and there is need to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Committee to get to the root of this matter, he suggested.

ACN Interview: Attacks on Christians becoming more frequent in Nigeria

14.06.2019 in ACN, Nigeria, Persecution of Christians

ACN Interview: Attacks on Christians becoming more frequent in Nigeria

Nigeria

An ACN Interview in the German magazine F1rstlife – 

Attacks on Christians becoming more frequent in Nigeria

Published on-line June 14, 2019

The turmoil continues in Nigeria. Reports of the defeat of the terrorist group “Boko Haram” contradict what Father John Bakeni experiences every day. The priest is responsible for coordinating aid for survivors of terrorist attacks and displaced persons in his native diocese of Maiduguri in northern Nigeria. The international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been working closely with him for many years.

While the threat of terrorism is omnipresent in the north, in Central Nigeria, attacks on Christian farmers by the predominantly Muslim nomads from the tribe of the Fulani are becoming ever more frequent. According to ACN project partners, anti-religious sentiments can also be found behind disputes over land.

Roman Kris from the youth magazine “F1rstlife” talked with John Bakeni about the current situation.


 

Roman Kris: Father John, Boko Haram is considered one of the most dangerous Islamist terrorist groups in the world. Recently, attacks on Christian farmers by Fulani shepherds have been occurring more frequently. What is the current situation?

Unfortunately, not much has changed. A large number of villages are still under attack. Even as we speak, people are being killed and their property destroyed. The fact that the people in rural areas are no longer able to cultivate their fields is deeply concerning. They are afraid of being kidnapped or killed. The state of safety in the nation is becoming ever more precarious.

 

Which dangers and challenges do you personally face?

The persecution of the Christian minority has been a problem in northern Nigeria for a long time. It ranges from political exclusion and the refusal to approve properties for the building of churches to the kidnapping and forced marriage of young girls as an act of calculated violence. The attacks on Christians are growing more flagrant and more aggressive. The ongoing conflict with Boko Haram and the attacks by predominantly Islamist Fulani shepherds have instilled a feeling of great uncertainty and fear in us Nigerians. We consider each day we live in safety a blessing, because we do not know what will happen the next day. It is very difficult to be a Christian in this part of the world, but our faith encourages us to bravely bear witness to the Gospel.

 

Today, the persecution of Christians is growing worse in many places. How do the state and civil society deal with the terrorism in Nigeria? Which kinds of aid, measures and strategies are or should be in place?

Christianity is experiencing difficult times all over the world. It is sad that countries that were once trailblazers and were developed on a foundation of Christian values are turning away from the faith. In Nigeria, the state is not putting forth much effort when it comes to the protection and safety of the lives and property of Christians. We citizens, no matter whether we are Christians or Muslims, expect the state to protect us and ensure our safety. This is the only way that people can go about their business without fear or reservations.

How does the Church in Nigeria help the people who are suffering from terrorism and where does it get the support it needs to do this?

In my diocese of Maiduguri, we receive a great deal of solidarity from other dioceses in Nigeria. But the greatest support comes from other countries, in particular from ACN and other organizations. Moreover, several dioceses in the US have helped us by allowing us to personally bear witness in their parishes. Countries such as Hungary have also sent us aid.

 

How would you describe the relationship between Islamism and Islam? Can and is it necessary for the peaceful majority of Muslims to become more active?

Islamism is a distortion of Islam. The silence of the Islamic majority is disturbing. The people should confront Islamism and denounce it.

 

What can we do here in Canada and in the Western World, to help the hard-pressed and suffering Christians in Nigeria?

First and foremost, pray for us. Secondly, support us financially and make resources available to us so that Christians can continue to keep the faith even in difficult situations. Thirdly, the governments need to convince our government to strengthen the democratic institutions that promote the rule of law, religious freedom and the freedom of assembly for all.

Nigeria is one of the focal countries for Aid to the Church in Need on the African continent. The pontifical charity funds a variety of projects, including support for destitute families who have lost family members during acts of terrorism and the rebuilding of church facilities that have been destroyed.

 


 

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin for ACN Canada

 

ACN News – The nightmare of Fulani herdsmen attacks in Nigeria

09.11.2018 in ACN Malta, ACN NEWS, ACN PRESS, ACN-Malta, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, by Grace Attu, Nigeria
An ACN Press Release – for Immediate Release

Nigeria

The nightmare of Fulani herdsmen attacks

Msgr. Kaigama sends out a call to terrorists

ACN Canada’s fundraising campaign for Nigeria underway

 

We shall not give up in our struggle for peaceful coexistence and civilized conduct. Msgr.Ignatius Kaigama – Archbishop of Jos

Montreal, November 9, 2018 – The city of Jos in Northern Nigeria has suffered severely from many long years of inter-religious violence at the hands of the terrorist group Boko Haram and just now when it seems to be recovering like the phoenix from the ashes, the incessant Fulani herdsmen attacks that have already affected many other areas in the country, are putting an end to these hopes.

 

Article and interview by Grace Attu, ACN-Malta
Adapted by ACN Canada

 

At the end of September, another fresh cycle of violence was triggered by a night attack of the herdsmen on Rukuba Road in Jos. Two days earlier, both the military and Fulani herdsmen had come to the area, claiming to search for the corpse of a missing Fulani boy. The outbreak rendered so many people orphaned, widowed and helpless.

Nigeria, Kaduna an example of destruction wrought by the Fulani –  attacks 2017

 One such person is Blessing Kogi, a 23-year-old university student who lives in Jos with her family. In an interview with the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), she explained how she in one night lost her mother, three siblings and six other family members to a tragic attack by the Fulani herdsmen.

 

Blessing Kogi, a 23 year old university student who lives in Jos with her family.

A horrific tale 

“In the evening of September 27th at around 7:00 pm, we were all in the house having dinner, my grandmother, my mother, three of my siblings, my sister-in-law, nephew and three of my cousins. We were eating when unknown gunmen suddenly burst in and opened fire.”

“So, I fell on the floor and played dead, but one of them still came to where I was lying down and shot me twice – in my neck and shoulder.”

“The men who were speaking to each other in the Hausa and Fulani languages, continued their killing spree in my neighbourhood. In total, 15 people were killed in my area: 10 in my house, three in another and two elsewhere. Five people sustained injuries, including three children in another house, and the two of us (i.e. Blessing and her cousin).” Blessing’s father survived only because he was at work when the terrible attack occurred.

Just like many other victims of such gratuitous violence, Blessing is broken and traumatized. She says, “I feel I don’t have anything left to live for in my life again. My father has not been eating. He cannot even talk. We don’t know what to do and how to start either.”

 

“This situation has really affected my faith as a Christian. Immediately after all this happened, I said many things without even knowing why, like I doubted whether Christ was really there, but I later realized that God is alive and He knows everything and so I leave everything in His hands. Now, I find strength in praying and singing praises to God,” she said.

 

She makes a passionate appeal to Christians all over the world, “I really need Christians all over the world to help us with their prayers because we are not finding things easy. Pray for us that we will be stronger in Christ, and He will give us the strength of heart to bear this loss.”

 

The Fulani herdsmen, also known as the Fulani militia, are a nomadic, pastoralist ethnic group living in the North and central regions of Nigeria, predominately in the Middle Belt. The majority of the Fulani herdsmen are Muslim. They have been clashing with indigenous tribes and locals, mainly Christian farmers, over grazing land for years.

 

Parishioners of St. Francis Parish Fwapwa at the Mass in honour of those killed in the Fulani attacks, in September.

Msgr. Kaigama: “People need help”

The archbishop of Jos in Nigeria and uncontested face of interreligious dialogue in his country and around the world, Msgr. Kaigama often spoke about the situation on his trip to Canada this past June.

Commenting on the Fulani herdsmen attacks in many parts of the country, especially in his Archdiocese of Jos, Most. Rev Ignatius Kaigama said, “once again, in Jos, innocent lives have been lost, properties destroyed, healing wounds re-opened, psychological trauma caused, inter-ethnic and religious suspicion rekindled”.

“The people have been unable to go about their normal farming activities this year because of the fear of constant attacks. They certainly need help with food, medication, clothing and above all, to be able to return to their homes to start rebuilding without any further molestation by the merchants of evil,” he said.

Terrorists, criminals- stop injuring humanity! Life is sacred. Respect it!”

The Archbishop continued, “we shall not give up in our struggle for peaceful coexistence and civilized conduct. Everyone must do his/her part: Religious leaders must sincerely preach peace. Politicians – avoid operating negatively behind the scenes! Security agents – be fair, unbiased and neutral in your operations! Government leaders- care for citizens facing hostile attacks by terrorists/criminals. Youth – avoid irrationality and stop being used! Terrorists, criminals- stop injuring humanity! Life is sacred. Respect it!”

 

The Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need launched a campaign in early November to support the peace efforts of the Catholic Church in Nigeria.  It is called “Let’s offer a bit of hope!”  To learn more and to make a donation, please visit the website dedicated to this campaign:  http//bit.ly/NigeriaACN

Or by phone: 1 -800-585-6333

Contact

 

ACN News: Attacks by Fulani Herdsmen – The Bishops of Nigeria’s Middle Belt appeal to ACN

05.07.2018 in Abducted Clergy and Religious, ACN Italy, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Marta Petrosillo, Nigeria, Persecution of Christians, Religious freedom

Nigeria, May 22, 2018
Christians demonstrating peacefully against the bloodshed in Nigeria – after the murder of two Priests and their parishioners during the celebration of the Holy Mass, in Mbalom, Benue State on 24.04.2018

Nigeria

 “DO NOT WAIT FOR A GENOCIDE TO HAPPEN TO INTERVENE!

Do not let this become another Rwanda

 “Please don’t make the same mistake as was made with the genocide in Rwanda. It happened beneath our noses, but no one stopped it. And we know well how that ended.” These are the words of Bishop William Amove Avenya of the diocese of Gboko, in the majority Christian Benue State. He was speaking to ACN. He is only the latest of the bishops of Nigeria’s Middle Belt to have raised his voice to denounce what is an increasingly worrying phenomenon – the attacks by Islamist Fulani Herdsmen on Christians in the region. In the last few days there have been new attacks in the area of Jos, the capital of Plateau State, killing over 100 people.

 

Peaceful protest, May 22, 2018

The Fulani Herdsmen have herded their flocks in parts of Nigeria’s Middle Belt for centuries and there have always been occasional clashes with local peasant farmers, the majority of whom are Christians today, and whose crops were frequently trampled and even destroyed by their flocks. But whereas in the past these conflicts were generally either tribal in nature or economically driven, today they appear to have become increasingly religion-based in character. According to official data, there have been 492 victims since the beginning of the year in Benue State alone. “They are criminals and terrorists, but they do not do the same things in the majority Muslim areas,” Bishop Avenya adds. “We are convinced

that what is happening is an ethnic cleansing of Christians.”

Bishop Peter Iornzuul Adoboh of Katsina Ala diocese (Benue State) and Bishop Matthew Ishaya Audu of Lafia diocese (Nassarawa State) believe that there is a “clear agenda of Islamizing the Nigerian Middle Belt,” a plan that is making use of the Fulani Herdsmen.

Italy, 11.05.2018
Bishop William Amove Avenya from Gboko Diocese in Nigeria during his visit at the Italian National Office of ACN in Rome

“Their aim is to strike at the Christians,”explains Bishop Audu, “and the government is doing nothing to stop them, because president Buhari himself is also a member of the Fulani tribe.” Adding to the suspicions of complicity on the part of the government is not merely the inactivity of the federal police but also the fact that these Fulani Herdsmen are being armed with ever more sophisticated weaponry.

 

492 people killed in the span of two months

“At one time they were armed only with sticks,” Bishop Avenya explains. “But now they are armed with AK-47 rifles – expensive weapons that they could not possibly afford. So who is supplying them? And besides, in these areas there are checkpoints every 2 km. Is it possible that armed men followed by their flocks of cattle could have somehow become invisible?”

Nigeria, May 22, 2018
Christians demonstrating peaceful against the bloodshed in Nigeria –

On May 22, all the dioceses of Nigeria took part in a protest march, calling on the government to protect the Christians. “Our faithful are being murdered or forced to live as refugees as a result of the violence,” the bishops tell us. “And the West continues to view the matter of the Fulani as merely an internal problem. Don’t do as you did in Rwanda; don’t wait for the genocide to happen before intervening!”

ACN Press – A courageous witness for interfaith dialogue

22.06.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN PRESS, By Mario Bard, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Interreligious Dialogue, Journey with ACN, Nigeria, Persecution of Christians, Services de Traduction Julie Bourbeau

Canada
A courageous witness of dialogue

Montréal, Friday, June 22nd From June 8th to 14th, Aid to the Church in Need Canada had the good luck and pleasure to welcome a direct witness to the persecution against Christians, who, for close to twenty years, has been a passionate advocate of interreligious and interethnic dialogue, Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama.

Msgr Kaigama after Mass in Toronto

 

“This man is endowed with incredible strength,” says Marie-Claude Lalonde, ACN National Director. “Despite all of the reasons he has to be angry, he preaches peace with his words and his life choice. He chose the nonviolent option, which was not obvious given his personal story.”

 

Msgr Kaigama gives a Homily at Saint Patrick’s Basilica in Montreal

In fact, during meetings held in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Gatineau and Montréal, Mgr. Kaigama revealed that his tribe was affected by a previous jihad in 1804. Later on, in 1892, several members of his tribe were assassinated or enslaved, historic events not well known in the West. ” It was Fulani shepherds – Muslims – who attacked the stronghold where my tribe had sought refuge,” recounted Mgr. Kaigama. “I would have every reason to be angry.” In addition to his family story, the archbishop found himself at the heart of an episode of rare violence, right after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

 

Marie-Claude Lalonde, Msgr Kaigama and Mgr Lépine, Archbishop of Montreal

Creating dialogue

When he was named Archbishop of the Diocese of Jos in April 2000, Mgr. Kaigama thought that he would be able to catch his breath. “I thought I would be able to rest,” he told us. The fact is, since February 3, 1995, he had spent a lot of energy in creating a new diocese, Jalingo. But in September 2001, this town of the Middle Belt caught fire, even though it has the reputation of being in a moderate environment, in a Nigeria that is split in two: the Muslim North and the Christian South.

Following the September 11 tragedy, the town of Jos caught fire. In 10 days, more than 1,000 people were killed. “My people were killed, my church burnt, my house destroyed, the vehicles we were using to go to remote and difficult places were all burnt. I always tell people that no one should be angrier than I! When my church was attacked, 14 people were killed; I saw their bodies at my feet. I should be the angriest person,” he repeats. But I said to myself: ‘When you are angry, you are hurting yourself most of all. Let’s find a way to talk.’ And that’s how I got into the dialogue, calling on reasonable Muslims and leaders [from all walks of life] to sit together and find solutions for every situation: what can we do to avoid crises? How can we get our people to embark on constructive dialogue when there is a problem so they don’t get into hostile confrontation?”

 

Archbishop Prendergast of Ottawa with Archbishop Kaigama of Jos

Being a credible witness

Msgr Kaigama continues to be misunderstood by several of his compatriots and co-religionists. After all, not many Christians would dare to sleep at an Imam’s or pray at a mosque with Muslims or even attend a wedding. Some find it too weak, others, naive and a waste of time in a fight they consider already lost.

 

“In Africa [for the last few years], the seeds of discord and distrust have been sown, especially in Nigeria … where the Sharia was implemented in nine States,” he stated. “However, as a Christian, my duty is to do what Jesus asked me to do: He is the Light, the Truth and the Life. If I cannot follow his path, I have no reason to be what I am. I always tell my people: ‘Let’s get back to the origins [of our faith]. Following violence, the young people come to us, especially the religious leaders. They say: ‘Buy weapons for us!’ So I say: ‘If I have to fight with weapons, what does the Word ‘I give you my peace, I leave you my peace’ mean. I tell them that it’s not my mission. Even if it’s difficult – [especially] when someone has lost their father, their mother, their whole family – we try to pacify them and call on the government to do something about it.”

 

Msgr Kaigama with Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto

Msgr. Kaigama continues his work in favour of dialogue in Nigeria. He is one of the founders and promoters of the Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace Centre, located in Jos. In October 2017, he organized an interreligious prayer for peace with other religious leaders.

“We are keeping Msgr. Kaigama in our hearts and pray that his work bears fruit!” says Ms. Lalonde. “I invite our benefactors to pray for him and his mission, trusting that God can bring peace to even the most hardened of hearts. For Mgr. Kaigama, the words of the Gospel ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you’ make sense.”

 

Archbishop Kaigama with the ACN Team in Montreal, including volunteers!

ACN News: Nigerian Archbishop to visit Canada

29.05.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN PRESS, Africa, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By Mario Bard, Faith, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Interreligious Dialogue, Nigeria, Nigeria, Translated by Amanda Griffin

ACN CANADA

A visit from Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama to Canada
A word of hope amidst violence and persecution

Montreal, Tuesday May 29, 2018 – Aid to the Church in Need Canada (ACN) will welcome Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama this coming June 8 through to June 14 to Canada.   The archbishop of Jos in Nigeria, capital of the Plateau State and city situated at the very heart of the area regularly suffering the effects of violence that is being described now, less as a struggle over territory and more as the desire to Islamicize regions that are mainly Christian.

What we are observing in certain regions of Nigeria is alarming,” says Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of ACN Canada, situated in Montreal.

“I am anxious to hear Msgr. Kaigama, a long time partner of ours, speak to us about the complex and difficult situation lived by the people in this region, the Christians in particular.”  This region – called the ‘Middle Belt’ because it is situated directly in the middle of the country – divides Nigeria in half: the southern half holding a Christian majority, and to the north, a Muslim majority.

“Some recent reports lead us to believe that there may be an attempt at Islamization of the majority Christian regions situated in this belt.  The coups, the massacres, the displacements and the theft of land leave thousands of people, many of who are Christians, without any resources.”

The city of Jos where Msgr. Kaigama has had a seat since 2000 was the theater of similar affronts in 2004.  Since, this man who currently presides over the country’s Catholic Bishops Conference has become an ardent defender of dialogue between Christians and Muslims.  If religious fundamentalism is one of the main reasons for violence, the Archbishop has no trouble speaking out regularly against a lack of means to fight efficiently against a mounting extremism. There is no educational system worthy of claiming an effective defense of minorities. Moreover, the welfare situation is endemic at over 14%.

Msgr. Kaigama in the Sanctuary of “Lourdes Grotto” Santiago, Chile 2016. Praying for peace in Nigeria

A first visit to Canada

Msgr. Kaigama has expressed that he is “very happy about this first visit to Canada.” And despite some very serious problems in his country, the archbishop also has a great desire to convey “a note of hope” to all the people who will be coming out to hear him speak.  “A Christian must always live in hope, while continuing all the while to live and struggle so that the world becomes a just and human place.”

This recipient of the Golden Dove in 2012 for his work in promoting peace and interreligious harmony will be visiting Vancouver on June 8 where he will have a public engagement at 7:30 at Karol Wojtyla Hall.  June 9, he will be in Toronto where he will preside at Mass held at 5:00pm at Saint Michael’s Cathedral.

The following day, June 12, he will be visiting Saint Clare’s parish at 11:00am, will preside over the Mass, and will be available to meet with people directly afterwards.  On June 11 and 12, he will be in the country’s capital and will celebrate Mass at Ottawa’s Notre-Dame Cathedral.  Once again, the following day, the public is invited to meet him at the Diocesan Centre in Gatineau.

Finally, on June 13 and 14, he will end his visit in Montreal where he will celebrate Mass at at Saint Patrick’s Basilica on June 13 at 5:15pm. The following day, he is inviting the public to come and meet him at the Atwater Library for a conference beginning at 7:30pm.

For more information and for the addresses of the meeting places and parishes, please visit ACN’s website acn-canada.org/kaigama/

Or call:  1-800-585-6333.

*Given by the Italian organization named Istituto di richerche internazionali Archivio disarm.


 

ACN News: Bishop of Makurdi speaks about the massacres of Christians in Nigeria

25.05.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Maria Lozano, Nigeria, Nigeria, Persecution of Christians

Nigeria

 

“There is a plan to Islamize the Christian areas.”

The Bishop of Makurdi speaks about the massacres of Christians in Nigeria: “There is a plan to Islamize the Christian areas.”

There is a clear agenda, a plan to Islamize all the areas that are currently predominantly Christian in the so-called Middle Belt of Nigeria.” This was the statement made by Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe of the diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria, who was speaking to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). It is in his diocese that the parish of Saint Ignatius is situated, in Ukpor-Mbalom in Benue State which was the scene of the most recent attack last April 24.

“Two of my priests were murdered, Father Joseph Gor and Father Felix Tyolaha, together with at least 17 of the faithful. They were celebrating Holy Mass at 6 in the morning.” Among the victims were a lay catechist and the president of the parish council, “both of them mothers of families,” and also the head teacher of the only secondary school in the town. During the interview, Bishop Anagbe noted the total number of victims has not yet been ascertained since tragically, some family members of the Catholic faithful had disappeared.

This was no isolated incident. Since early this year, over 100 people have been killed in similar attacks. “Eleven parishes in the diocese have been attacked,” the bishop told ACN, “and there have been numerous other attacks throughout Benue State, where 99% of the population are Christians.” In January, the local government organized a mass burial for 72 victims for their families.

 

Islamizing the entire region: So who is funding them?

These attacks were carried out by nomadic cattle herders of the Fulani tribe with extremist views. “We are not speaking of Boko Haram this time, although some of the cattle herders have connections with that terrorist group in the past and both groups are united in the same intention to Islamize the entire region.” the bishop added.

In the face of so much violence one of the most worrying aspects for the bishop is a complete lack of action on the part of the government, especially the federal government. “When the attacks take place, there are never any police or soldiers present. Quite apart from the fact that the Fulani tribesman for the most part live in the forest and cannot afford the luxury of such sophisticated weapons. So who is funding them?”

Nigeria, March 2017
Impressions out of the car on the way from Kaduna to Jos

The violence has resulted in a large number of internal refugees, over 100,000 of them, now living in four separate refugee camps in the diocese of Makurdi. “The Church is helping the people, whereas the government is  not helping us at all in this case,” the bishop explained.

The area where the most recent attack took place is now completely abandoned and deserted. The parish of Mbalom was established only in 2015. “There was nothing at the time, no schools and no hospitals. We built these, above all thanks to the dedication of Father Joseph and Father Felix. They were priests who were truly active and devoted to their community,” the bishop observed.

In the face of so much pain and suffering, the Nigerian Christians are not losing hope – but they do need the support of the international community. The Catholic Church in Nigeria has organized a march for 22 May to protest against the continuing massacres of Christians by the Fulani cattle herders. “Please pray for us and make yourself spokesmen for the suffering our community is going through. We need people to raise their voices in our defense. Nigeria is part of the United Nations, and we cannot simply be abandoned and forgotten by the world.”

 

 


 

 

ACN Update: Nigeria’s Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama to do a cross-Canada tour

25.05.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Nigeria


Canada

A word of hope amidst violence and persecution

Msgr. Ignatius Kaigama is the archbishop of Jos in Nigeria and the president of the Episcopal Conference of the country.

He will be visiting Canada from June 7 to June 14 to speak about the circumstances in his country of Nigeria, the most populous in Africa.

The difficulties are many: poverty, corruption, lack of healthcare and problems with the education system. In addition, factors contributing to the difficulties like the presence of Islamic extremist terrorist groups in the north, such as the so-called Boko Haram as well as the situation of Christians living under the Sharia Law in at least nine of the northern states.

Archbishop Kaigama will address these issues.
However, he strongly believes that dialogue is the key to a peaceful country.

Dates and times:

Vancouver:
Friday June 8: Karol Wojtyla Hall, 4885 Saint John Paul II Way, 7:30 pm

TorontoSaturday June 9: Mass at the Cathedral St. Michael, 65 Bond Street, at 5pm, will be followed by a talk given by the Bishop Kaigama
Sunday June 10: after the noon Mass, at St Clare Parish, 1118, St.Clair Ave West

Ottawa-Gatineau
Tuesday, June 12: Diocesan Centre, 180 Mont-Bleu Blvd, 7:30 pm

Montreal
Thursday, June 14: Atwater Library
1200 Atwater Avenue – Atwater Metro, 7:30 pm

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-585-6333.

 


 

ACN News: Nigeria Bishops call on the president to “consider stepping-aside”

11.05.2018 in ACN NEWS, Adapted by Julie Bourbeau and Amanda Griffin, Africa, Nigeria

Nigeria

Bishops call on the president to “consider stepping-aside”

Last April 24, Nigeria’s bishops  issued a formal statement calling on the President to “consider stepping aside,” and accusing the government of security failures which they blame for the murder of 17 Christians, including two priests.

Father Joseph Gor, Father Felix Tyolaha and 15 parishioners were killed during a funeral Mass in Mbalom, Benue State, by gunmen, with reports that about 30 Fulani militants waited for the faithful to gather at the church before attacking. They also burned down about 50 homes in the area.

Condemning the “rampaging and murderous terrorists”, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) issued a formal statement, asking: “…how can the federal government stand back while its security agencies deliberately turn a blind eye to the cries and wails of helpless and armless citizens, who remain sitting ducks in their homes, farms, highway and now, even in their sacred places of worship?”

Writing in bold typeface, the bishops stressed: “…it is time for [Nigeria’s President Mudammadu Buhari] to choose the part of honour and consider stepping aside to save the nation from total collapse.”

Accusing the President of ignoring repeated calls to step up security, the bishops assert: “He should no longer continue to preside over the killing fields and mass graveyard that our country has become.”

Written in the wake of the funeral Mass killings, which took place last Tuesday (24th April), the bishops assert that they have lost confidence in the country’s security apparatus.

In their statement, the bishops declare: “Faced with these dark clouds of fear and anxiety, our people are daily being told to defend themselves. But defend themselves with what?”

The statement notes that the “government should encourage and empower citizens to secure themselves and their environments. This is not the time to disarm people with legally procured weapons of self-defense.”

The CBCN statement reports that back in January, Father Gor, one of the priests killed last Tuesday, had warned about the continuing threat posed by Fulani herdsmen, of whom he said: “‘They still go grazing around. No weapons to defend ourselves.’”

Highlighting security concerns across Nigeria’s Middle-Belt, Father Alexander Yeyock, parish priest of St John’s Catholic Church, Asso village in nearby Kaduna State, told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need: “The concern now is that the entire nation should not depend so much on national security protection.

“Every individual, group and community should struggle to defend themselves.  This is grossly unfortunate.”

 

Nigeria, diocese of Maiduguri in October 2017
The diocese of Maiduguri has just celebrated its 50th anniversary, in which context Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme has reconsecrated it to the Immaculate Heart of Mary: People are at the foot of the cross.

Fulani militias forming abroad

Father Yeyock’s parish was attacked a month ago when two Catholic men were shot dead, an atrocity which took place almost exactly a year after Fulani militants murdered 12 Christians during the Easter Vigil service at his church.

Referring to tension in his parish and across the region, Father Yeyock said: “In Asso, farmers go to farms in fear and in groups… Bereaved families have come to terms with the reality that attacks by Fulani herdsmen [occur] frequently in Asso, but no place is spared.”

Father Yeyock added: “It’s again unfortunate that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are known by the government of Nigeria, those who sponsor them too, and yet no action is taken.”

Highlighting that Fulani militants receive military training abroad before going on to target Christians, he said: “With the news of the current attacks, Nigerians have argued with the earlier narrative from the federal government, which has very often told the world that it was always a clash between the herdsmen and farmers.

“It’s now evidently revealing that there is more to it than meets the eye… it is purely a religious jihad in disguise.

According to reports, the Acting Governor of Benue State, Benson Abounu, said last Tuesday’s attack showed that the security breakdown had “gone beyond [a] farmers-herders crisis.”