Thousands of Christians rallied in front of the governor’s office in Nigeria’s Plateau state to demand action after more than 200 people were killed in a series of Christmas massacres. Source: National Catholic Register.
The attacks, which targeted Christian villages, began on December 23 and continued through Christmas day. They left Christian communities in Nigeria’s Plateau state reeling.
According to Rev. Dr. Gideon Para-Mallam, an evangelical leader who helped to organise the rally, the attacks also left 15,000 people displaced without homes.
Among the demands being made by the protestors, Rev Para-Mallam said that they asked for an “urgent humanitarian relief material response by the state and federal government” and for the arrest of the perpetrators of the Christmas massacres, which he called a “genocidal,” “terrorist” attack.
Religious freedom advocates believe that militant Muslim Fulani herdsmen were responsible for the Christmas attacks. In Nigeria as a whole, at least 60,000 Christians have been killed in the past two decades. An estimated 3462 Christians were killed in Nigeria in the first 200 days of 2021, or 17 per day, according to a new study.
Pope Francis addressed the severity of the situation in Nigeria in his December 31 Angelus address. He offered prayers for those affected, saying, “May God free Nigeria from these atrocities!”
Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for highlighting the ongoing insecurity crisis and called for a concrete response.
Meanwhile, the Australian-based charity Catholic Mission is offering ongoing support to the Nigerian people and the development of future Church leaders. It is raising funds to assist seminarians on their path to priesthood. These future priests are envisioned to be pillars within their communities, embodying and spreading the “Gospel values of justice, peace, and love,” which Cardinal Onaiyekan emphasises as crucial for peacebuilding in Nigeria.
“Now, especially, [the] Church has to work enormously to make sure there is peace between many ethnic groups,” says Isaac, a Nigerian seminarian supported by the work of Catholic Mission. Details: www.catholicmission.org.au/peace.
Thousands of Christians in Nigeria Rally to Demand Action After Christmas Massacres (By Peter Pinedo, CNA via National Catholic Register)
A seminarian journey (Catholic Mission)