Cardinal Speaks Out on Religious Persecution in Nigeria

“Our religion does not say we should sit back and let them kill us,” assured Cardinal John Onaiyekan.

Nigeria – Abuja (08/10/2022 1:43 PM, Gaudium Press) During the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan spoke about the difficult situation of the Church in his country, where perhaps Christians suffer the most persecution in the world.

According to the Cardinal, “There is great insecurity throughout the country, more people are being killed every day, bandits and terrorists seem to have a free hand. The security situation in Nigeria is getting out of control. No one is safe, not just Christians. It’s as if the government has lost control,” he lamented.

A matter of respect and defense of human life

He expressed that he does not consider that what is happening in his country is a war of Muslims against Christians, since many Muslims are dying, as the violence is more pronounced in the northern states where there is a Muslim majority.

The situation is untenable: “If the government doesn’t intervene, there is open space for everyone, be it Boko Haram or any other criminal. It is not a question of Christians and Muslims. It is a question of respect and defense of human life.”

Our religion does not say we should sit back and let them kill us

“Unfortunately,” he says, “many of the perpetrators [of the violence] continued to carry the flag of Islam. My answer is that Christians should continue to remain steadfastly Christian and know how to be faithful to their religion. When it comes to defending ourselves, we should start working on the means to defend ourselves against criminals. Our religion doesn’t say that we should sit down and let them kill us. We have every right to defend ourselves.”

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To Christians, who must be true to their status as such: “Be good Christians wherever you are. If you are a Christian and you are in the army, do a good job of protecting people.”

Compiled by Angelica Vecchiato

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