Archive of June 24, 2014

Church must reclaim its missionary identity, Italian priest says

Milan, Italy, Jun 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - As “Ad Gentes,” the only Italian magazine dedicated to the foreign missions, suspended publication last week due to a lack of subscribers, a priest has emphasized the Church's need to embrace its missionary ideals.

“We should be enthusiastic for Jesus Christ, who gave us the vocation of being missionary … we should turn back to Christ in order to bring the mission back to people,” Fr. Piero Gheddo, a priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions since 1953, told CNA June 20.

“The Church is missionary. Everybody must keep in mind the need to go to those who are far away, to evangelize, to bear the Gospel of Christ.”

Fr. Gheddo lamented that “these topics have almost disappeared from the Church’s public agenda.”

Noting that in Italy the missionary ideal has been lost and missionary vocations have dropped severely, he attributed this to two factors.

First, the idea of being missionary in one's own territory – he explained that Italians have been preoccupied with missioning within their own country.

“But,” he said, “if Italy isn’t sending missionaries all over the world, it betrays its mission as a bearer of the patrimony of Church, since the Vatican is an enclave within Italy.”

His second point is that missionary activity was politicized after 1968 – secular trends began to strongly influence missionary institutions.

As a result, said Fr. Gheddo, speaking about Christ became secondary to carrying out social work.

Fr. Gheddo provided the very recent example of an event managed by Italian missionaries April 25 at the Roman arena in Verona.

“The theme of the meeting was ‘The Arena of Peace and Disarmament,’ but none of the speeches dealt with the peace hailing from Christ.”

“Instead, political requests were promoted, such as a the decrease in the Italian defense spending.”

“Yet John XXIII, in his encyclical ‘Pacem in Terris’, clearly underscored that peace is that which is borne by Christ, who says,‘I am your peace’. We have lost sight of this.”

The Church needs, Fr. Gheddo said, to “go back to our roots, back to a precisely missionary identity.”

He added that Pope Francis' desire that the Church go to the peripheries is a “huge push in this sense,” and he hopes it might reverse the demise in Italy's missionary culture.

“When Pope Francis speaks about going outside, to the peripheries, it is often interpreted as a push for social action. It is a social action, but it is not just this.”

“The Pope means that you have to go outside, to the nations, to bring the message of Christ.”

back to top

Saint Faustina play brings message of Divine Mercy to life

Seattle, Wash., Jun 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A once-obscure nun from 1930s Poland would probably be surprised to find that she is the subject of a play travelling all across the United States in 2014.

But popular demand was what ultimately drove Leonardo Defilippis, founder of St. Luke productions, to create “Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy”.

“It’s amazing how there’s an interest in her. She was kind of hidden (in her life), but Divine Mercy is probably the fastest growing devotion in the entire world,” he said.

“When I saw that young people were really into her and they had a devotion to her, I said I need to be open to doing a play on Faustina.”

The one-woman, two hour show tells the story of St. Faustina Kowalska, who at a young age joined the sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, and who received visions and messages from Christ which she inscribed in a diary. Christ asked her to tell the whole world about his message of mercy, which would prepare mankind for the end of the world.

While the saint died at the age of 33, she had already filled hundreds of pages with the words Christ spoke to her, which is now a published volume entitled “Divine Mercy in My Soul.” In 2000, St. John Paul II canonized her, instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy, and helped to spread devotion to the Divine Mercy image and chaplet.

Featuring Maria Vargo as Faustina, the play shows the joys and great struggles the saint endured in her life as a mystic. Woven into the play is also a modern story of healing and forgiveness in the life of a young woman who learns about Divine Mercy.

“I love what Jesus said about the chaplet – that even the most hardened sinner would receive grace if he prayed the chaplet one time,” said Vargo. “I think the show is super powerful in showing that we can pray for everyone and that our sacrifice and pain is worth something if we unite it to his pain and suffering.”

What also makes “Faustina” a powerful story is that it forces people to face the reality that they will someday die and meet Jesus, Defilippis said.

“The biggest taboo in our culture is death. No one wants to deal with death. But that is the ultimate reality,” Defilippis said. “And I think Faustina is an incredible sign right now to help us deal with what we call our passing, and that’s why I think this play is so exciting.”

The actress said she had always prayed the chaplet with her family and knew of Divine Mercy Sunday, but it wasn’t until she auditioned for the role of the saint that she really began learning about St. Faustina. Once Vargo landed the role, Defilippis sent her to spend a week with sisters from the same order as Faustina who live in Dorchester, Mass.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh I don’t know about this, for an entire week? What am I going to do?’” Vargo said, “But by the end of it I was crying because I had to leave.”

Vargo was encouraged to pursue acting and performing after a grade school teacher complimented her singing voice. Several years into her acting career after high school and college, she had a deeper conversion in her faith.

“That made me want to do things that glorified God,” Vargo said. For a few years, Vargo set acting aside to write and record original Christian music. She then was working for a faith-based theater company when a friend told her about auditions for “Faustina”.

While Vargo interacts with characters who appear on a screen during the play, she said being the only live actress on stage was an adjustment.

“It took a lot of trusting in the Lord,” she admitted. “I’m used to working with actors that are there in the flesh, and I had to make it look and feel as believable as possible that I’m having a living, breathing experience with this screen.”

Defilippis said he often creates small shows with just one or two actors, to make the plays more accessible. A small set and cast allows the productions to be staged in smaller venues such as churches and nursing homes, which is cheaper, and likely to attract a wider audience.

Defilippis has seen his plays impact people in both extraordinary, and more ordinary ways.

“I’ve had blind people being able to see a show, and then they revert back, but they actually saw the show. God gave them the grace to do that. Many things have happened that are strange, but also very common,” Defilippis said, adding that he’s heard of people who name their child after seeing a play about a certain saint or who have met their future spouse at a show.

The Faustina show in particular has forced people to confront places in their lives where they need forgiveness and healing, Defilippis said.

“We have a huge uptick of confessions happening when they leave (the show), which is amazing to think about that a play is increasing the sacraments,” Defilippis said.

Vargo said she hoped that the audience would come away from the play knowing “that they are so loved and so special that Our Lord would do anything for them, and it’s never too late to be forgiven for anything that you’ve done.”

For future plays, Defilippis is looking into a variety of saints – John Paul II, Benedict, Mother Teresa and Clare, to name a few. He said while his production studio has dabbled in other art forms such as film, he believes live drama has the most powerful impact on an audience.

“It does something to you that movie can’t do because you’re right there in the moment, and it really touches you. You’re in a way having a more incarnational experience where for a moment you feel like…you’re really seeing the saint,” he said. “It’s kind of like, ‘would rather see Jesus on film or would you rather see him in person?’”

The power of a live performance is also something Vargo has seen affect herself and her audiences.

“Someone came up to me after a show and said, ‘You’re not acting, you’re living it.’ And that’s how I feel, I’ve put my whole heart and soul into it. I give it everything I have,” Vargo said.

Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy” will continue to tour the United States through the spring of 2015.

back to top

Hate group's presence shocks attendees at priest funeral

Salina, Kan., Jun 24, 2014 (CNA) - Faithful who attended the funeral for Father Kenneth Walker were dismayed at the presence of picketers from the Westboro Baptist Church on June 20 near Paxico, Kansas.

As mourners filed into Sacred Heart Catholic Church, members of the hate group stood nearby holding signs and singing songs in order to broadcast their message.

A priest with the Fraternity of St. Peter, Fr. Walker, 28, was shot and killed while coming to the aid of Fr. Joseph Terra at their parish, Mater Misercordiae Mission, in Phoenix on June 11. Fr. Terra, 56, suffered several injuries but was released from the hospital June 16.

Those in attendance at Fr. Walker's funeral were disheartened that a group would want to protest at such a difficult time for family and friends.

“I thought it was very inappropriate timing, very inconsiderate for what people are going through right now,” funeral attendee Bridget Bogowith said of the protestors. “It's really uncaring. I was just quite shocked to see them here.”

Funeral attendee Michael Drake said the Catholic response to such protests is a peaceful one.

“We pray for them,” he told CNA. And while he wished the group no ill will, Drake said he was confounded as to why people who believe in God would want to protest the funeral of a priest.

“It seems really unusual that folks would picket the funeral of a man who gave up so many things, including the possibility of a wife and family, in order to serve God,” he said.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church are known for picketing funerals, particularly those of soldiers. According to their website, group member believe God is punishing America through war due to the country's immoral society.

Drake's mother Claire said she felt sad for the protestors and didn't understand why they would want to picket funerals.

“I know that if one of their ministers died, I would be very sad for his family, I would be concerned, I certainly wouldn't be protesting in front of their church,” she said. “I just think it's a sad and not terribly Christian thing.”

back to top

Vatican cricket team to play Church of England in first tour

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - St. Peter’s Cricket team begins their “Light of Faith Tour” this fall, which includes a warm-up game against a team from the Royal Household and a final match against the Anglican Church at Canterbury.

“We’re very happy that we were able to organize a cricket match against the Anglican Communion,” Fr. Eamon O’Higgins told CNA during a June 24 press conference announcing the cricket team’s tour.

“The fact that it is a team of priests and seminarians, all of whom study here in very significant for the Christian faith and we hope also the tour.”

Fr. O’Higgins is in charge of spiritual formation at Rome’s Maria Mater Ecclesiae college where the majority of the team members study, and also serves as the team manager for St. Peter’s Cricket Club, officially founded last fall.

Called the “Light of Faith Tour,” the team’s first season begins Sept. 12 when they leave for England, where they are slated to play a series of warm-up matches before their first major game against the Anglicans.

A first warm-up match against the Edinburgh Divines will take place Sept. 10 – 11 in Rome, after which the Vatican team will travel to Brighton for a Sept. 14 – 15 game, and will play their final warm-up match against a team composed of members from the Royal Household at Windsor Castle, an official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, Sept. 17.

The initial matches will culminate in a Sept. 19 game played against a team from the Church of England, the mother church of the whole Anglican community, on the grounds of Kent County Cricket Club at the Canterbury Cathedral.

“Canterbury was the first Christian see. That’s where the first Christians came to England, the famous cathedral, the cathedral of St. Thomas Beckett, and St Anselm, the great philosopher and the remains of St. Thomas More are there,” Fr. O’Higgins explained.

“It’s the center of Christianity in England. So, a bigger place for Christians there isn’t!”

Serving as a moment of ecumenical encounter, several moments of prayer are being planned for the game, including a special prayer before the match begins, the recitation of evensong, or the singing of the psalms, the evening of Sept. 18 as well as a daily hour of Eucharistic adoration throughout the tour.

Referring to the name of the tour, Fr. O’Higgins observed that “we’ve called it the ‘Light of Faith Tour,’” to express the hope “that it will give the light of faith to people there.”

“The very fact of seeing priests, seminarians, boys training for the priesthood in a public atmosphere playing a cricket match, gives a sign to people,” he said.

Noting how the sport serves as a point of dialogue between Christianity and secular culture, the priest stated that it shows the world “that God does call young men to the priesthood, young men do respond and that faith is something alive and active.”

“Perhaps culture at times tends to make us forget the presence of God. And this is going to be a very visible presence of God on a cricket field at Canterbury.”

Made up of 12 priests, deacons and seminarians, the team is two-thirds Indian, with other members hailing from England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

“I don’t know if you know (but) in India cricket is a passion like football or soccer is in Brazil or in Europe,” Fr. O’Higgins explained, referring to the large number of Indians who volunteered to be on the team.

“So playing cricket in India is a way of entering into the culture, in a peaceful way, in a way that proposes something positive to people who perhaps would not be exposed to Christian culture.”

“That’s the idea,” he said, mentioning that “we don’t have any definite plans to go to India yet but we’re not going to stop anybody from inviting us.”

back to top

AP issues massive correction on Ireland child burial story

Dublin, Ireland, Jun 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Associated Press has retracted key claims from its reports of an Irish Catholic home for unwed mothers supposedly burying hundreds of unbaptized infants in a septic tank.

A correction issued June 20 explained that “the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the [septic] tank contains, if any.”

In addition, the AP said that it had wrongly reported that many of the children were unbaptized according to Church teaching.

“The Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not received Roman Catholic baptisms; documents show that many children at the orphanage were baptized. The AP also incorrectly reported that Catholic teaching at the time was to deny baptism and Christian burial to the children of unwed mothers; although that may have occurred in practice at times it was not church teaching.”

The organization also acknowledged that it had incorrectly identified the year in which the orphanage in question had opened.

On June 3, the AP had run a story claiming that a researcher had discovered the remains of hundreds of infants in a mass grave by a former home for single mothers near Tuam, Ireland that was run by Catholic nuns.

The story had provoked widespread anger, and the local archbishop said he was horrified by the reports and encouraged a government investigation into the matter.

However, critics of the report quickly began surfacing, claiming that the story was distorted and exaggerated.

AP’s own source for the story, researcher Catherine Corless, lamented to the Irish Times that her work “has taken on a life of its own,” and said she never used the word “dumped” to describe the bodies being buried.

In a June 22 opinion piece for the Washington Examiner, commentary writer T. Becket Adams slammed the AP, saying that it “did the public and the Catholic Church in Ireland a major disservice.”

“The AP undoubtedly duped thousands of readers – readers who likely won’t notice the little-publicized correction – into thinking that a handful of Irish nuns behaved like monsters,” Adams stated.

“The narrative of child neglect and cruelty will stick, despite the story’s numerous inaccuracies, and it’ll likely stay that way as activist groups in the Emerald Isle increase their efforts to pull the Church to the left.”

back to top

Pope: a Christian does not announce himself, but the Lord

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his homily for the feast of John the Baptist’s birth, Pope Francis emphasized that a true Christian puts oneself aside in order for God to be seen, as St. John the Baptist did. 

“A Christian does not announce himself, he announces another, prepares the way for another: the Lord,” the Pope observed in his June 24 daily Mass.

Celebrating the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the Roman Pontiff explained to those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse that the cousin of Jesus had a threefold vocation: to prepare the way for the messiah, to discern who he was and to diminish himself so that others would follow Jesus.

Although many began to follow John because “his words were strong” and went “to the heart,” the saint did not give in to temptation “to believe that he was important," Pope Francis said. 

Instead, when asked whether or not he was the messiah, John replied, “I am preparing the way of the Lord.”

This is the first vocation of the Baptist, to “prepare the people, to prepare the hearts of the people for the encounter with the Lord," the pontiff said.

The second part of John’s vocation was “to discern from among so many good people, who the Lord was,” he continued, noting how “the Spirit revealed this to him and he had the courage of saying: ‘This is the one. This is the Lamb of God, he who takes away the sins of the world.’”

Pope Francis noted that when John declared that “This is the one! And more worthy than me!” the disciples left him and followed Jesus.

The third aspect of John’s vocation was to diminish, and that his “life began to descend, to diminish because the Lord would grow until he was destroyed.”

“He must increase, but I must decrease,” the pontiff said, adding that “this was the more difficult stage for John, because the Lord had a style that he had not imagined.”

John the Baptist was imprisoned at the end of his life and had to send his disciples to confirm whether Jesus was the messiah.

“He suffered not only the darkness of the cell, but the darkness in his heart: ‘But, will it be this one? Did I make a mistake?’” Pope Francis said.

It was not clear if Jesus was the messiah, because he came in a much different way than expected, the Pope reflected. However, since John “was a man of God, he asked his disciples to go to (Jesus) and ask: ‘But, is it really you, or should we wait for another?’”

Christians can learn three things from John the Baptist, the Pope said: How to prepare, how to discern and how to diminish in order to let the Lord increase. 

“And a Christian should be a man who can step aside,” he concluded, “because the Lord will grow in the heart and soul of others.”

back to top

Sudanese woman sentenced to death re-arrested

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - After having her death sentence for refusing to renounce her Christian faith revoked by a Sudanese court yesterday, Meriam Ibrahim has been re-arrested along with her husband at an airport.

According to the BBC, close to 40 security officers detained Ibrahim along with her husband, Daniel Wani - who is a U.S. citizen - and their two children Tuesday at an airport in Sudan’s capitol while attempting to leave the country.

Further details regarding the reasons why the couple were arrested have not been made available.

The arrest follows Ibrahim’s release from prison Monday after an appeals court dismissed her death sentence.

In May, the 27-year-old woman had been charged with abandoning Islam under Sudanese law. Because her father was a Muslim, Ibrahim was legally considered a Muslim even though her mother raised her as a Christian after her father left the family when she was 6 years old.

Despite pressure and multiple death threats, Ibrahim refused to renounce her Christian faith while in prison.

Her husband, Daniel Wani, told the BBC Monday that he was looking forward to seeing his wife and wanted his family to leave Sudan as soon as possible.

The couple's young son Martin has lived in prison with his mother since February. Ibrahim gave birth to their second child, a baby girl, while in prison in May.

Besides the crime of apostasy – or the abandoning of the Islamic faith – Ibrahim was also charged with adultery. Her marriage to her Christian husband was not considered valid since she was considered a Muslim.

She was to receive 100 lashes for the adultery charge and was sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy.

back to top

Discrimination order sparks fears over religious liberty

Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - While affirming the dignity of every human person, Catholic and family advocates are voicing concern over reports of an anti-discrimination executive order that could undermine religious freedom.

A group of U.S. Catholic bishops issued a statement noting “great concern” over “the reported intention of the President of the United States to issue an executive order forbidding what the Administration considers ‘discrimination’ based on ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity.’”

“Because we do not know how the executive order will define these critically important terms, or if it will provide sufficient (or any) religious freedom protection, we cannot provide substantive comment on the order,” the bishops clarified in their June 20 statement.

The document was signed by Archbishops Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman for the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; Thomas Wenski of Miami, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty; and John Nienstedt of Minneapolis, chairman of the Committee on Doctrine.

The archbishops responded to reports that an executive order is being drafted to ban discrimination by federal contractors against people who identify as gay or transgender.

The news came after the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, stalled in the House of Representatives.

If signed into action, the executive order could require organizations with federal contracts to treat same-sex partnerships as marriages, unless wide religious freedom exemptions are granted.

Currently, ENDA proposes to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and an employee’s stated gender identity by all larger non-religious, civilian employers.

The bill has been introduced in every congressional session since 1994 except for the 109th session from 2005-2007, but has never been passed. President Barack Obama has voiced his support for both the 2011 and 2013 versions of the bill.

Both the legislation and potential executive order have raised religious freedom worries. Catholic groups that contract with the federal government have voiced concern that they may be disqualified from future contracts due to their beliefs about same-sex conduct and relationships, even if they respect the dignity of all human beings, including those who identify as gay or transgender.

Already, Catholic institutions such as the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Archdiocese of Washington have lost government grants or had to drop spousal coverage because of the districts’ recognition of same-sex relationships as marriage or requirements that Catholic social programs include access to abortions.

The U.S. Church is currently in the midst of the third national Fortnight for Freedom to raise awareness about various threats to religious freedom including that posed by ENDA and the potential executive order.

The bishops clarified that they support efforts to “uphold the dignity of each and every human person” and oppose “unjust discrimination any person on any grounds” as well as misguided teaching about marriage and religious freedom.

They also noted that they would review the executive order once available, “in order to assess whether it serves the dignity of the human person and the common good,” and give detailed comments on the topic, as they did with the ENDA legislation in the Senate.

The American Family Association offered similar concerns over religious liberty for Christian business owners and contractors.

The group’s president, Tim Wildmon, charged in a June 17 statement that the proposed order could allow the government “to use ‘faith’ as the basis for discriminating against potential contractors.”

back to top

Bishop: government corruption a factor in Boko Haram violence

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jun 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The bishop of a northern Nigerian diocese said at a conference last week that among the factors which has led to violence by a radial Islamist group there is the government's corruption and lack of administration.

“The grounds (Boko Haram) have against the Nigerian state are basically the same as ordinary Nigerians have about the persistence of corruption, the growing inequalities, the fact that the political system is not working and that poverty is increasing,” Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto told CNA.

“There is nothing that Boko Haram does that is tolerable … they are purely and simply criminals who are robbing banks and seizing individuals, they’re kidnapping young women, they’re killing people all over the place.”

The bishop’s comments came June 17 at the 11th annual meeting of the Oasis International Foundation, which discussed “The Temptation of Violence: Religions between War and Reconciliation.”

The Oasis Foundation was founded by Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan in 2004 to foster mutual understanding and encounter between the western/Christian and Muslim worlds. The June 16-17 conference was held in Sarajevo, discussing, in addition to Boko Haram, religious violence in the Middle East; the fallout from World War I; violence in India; and religious-ethnic tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bishop Kukah, whose cathedral city lies fewer than 60 miles from the Nigerien border, delivered a paper at the conference discussing Nigerians' plight under Boko Haram, an Islamist group which launched an uprising in 2009 and hopes to impose sharia law on Nigeria. It has targeted security forces, politicians, Christian minorities, and moderate Muslims in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north.

Its attacks have killed thousands since 2009, including at least 1,600 in 2014 alone. The U.N. estimates that the attacks have led to more than 470,000 internally displaced persons, and some 57,000 refugees.

On June 23, an explosion attributed to Boko Haram at a public health college in Kano killed eight and wounded at least 20.

In the past week, several villages in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state were attacked by Boko Haram, with dozens of people killed and more than 60 women and children abducted, according to the BBC. The group continues to hold more than 200 schoolgirls, most of them aged between 16 and 18, whom they kidnapped from their boarding school, also in Borno, on April 14.

Bishop Kukah said Boko Haram's prominence in Nigeria's north came against “the backdrop of a state whose apparatus of governance had become very weak while the Muslim ulama (lawyer class) was also losing its credibility and moral authority,” calling it a “free-for-all environment.”

“Clearly, what is happening today lies in the years of corruption, mismanagement of state resources which has consigned our citizens to a life of misery and squalor,” he said, explaining that Boko Haram’s references to “justice” and “sharia” are not only driven ideologically but also an expression of “the frustration that has spread across the country.”

The bishop's point echoed what has been said by his peers: in May, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos told Aid to the Church in Need that the Nigerian government had done “too little, too late” in responding to the Islamists, charging that “all the money used for the military has not been used properly. Quite a lot of the budget was used for security but we do not see the fruits.”

The Nigerian government, Bishop Kukah said, “must act urgently to address the issues of corruption by ending impunity in public life and laying the foundations for good governance.”

Nigeria scored a 25 out of 100 on Transparency International's 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index, in the company of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Iran, Papua New Guinea, and Ukraine. It had fallen from a 27 the previous year.

Since gaining its independence in 1960, Nigeria has largely been ruled by military juntas. Its democratization began in 1999. Bishop Kukah charged that “successive leaders have done very little to forge a united nation.”

“The levels of poverty and misery, the depth of growing inequalities is morally intolerable and there is no way that Nigeria can enjoy peace if it does not address these issues with seriousness,” he stressed.

Nigeria's population is nearly evenly divided between Muslims and Christians, with Muslims residing largely in the north, and Christians in the south.

Nigeria's biggest challenge, Bishop Kukah said, is “to rise up and seek to build a country where difference is not an obstacle for the celebration of our common humanity. The goals and ideals of our religions offer us the best option. The challenge is for us to rescue religion and its sacred teachings from the clutches and abuse by fanatics and extremists whether they are in politics or criminal jihadists.”

Though he comes from a diocese where less than one percent of the population is Catholic, Bishop Kukah called the threat of Boko Haram a challenge to Nigerians' “corporate existence,” rather than “a religious battle between Christians and Muslims.”

The means of countering Boko Haram, he told CNA, is “by building local confidence and helping local citizens to trust the government. This is something the government has not worked very hard on in the past.”

“Because ordinary citizens have been victims of police excesses and police extortion, there’s a loss of confidence with the security agencies. So a lot of the challenges relate to confidence building, and people just getting a sense of meaning in their lives.”

back to top

Follow us:

Recent activity: