Pope Benedict XVI remembered the victims of the recent sectarian violence in Nigeria during the General Audience at the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Wednesday morning. The Holy Father defined the violence as “atrocious” and called for reconciliation in the country.
After expressing his prayer and appeal for aid for those affected by the earthquake in Turkey during the general audience, Pope Benedict sent his condolences “to the victims of the atrocious violence” in Nigeria which, he pointed out, “did not even spare defenseless children.”
The Holy Father stressed that “violence does not resolve conflicts, but only increases the tragic consequences.”
On Sunday morning, three villages of Christians of ethnic Berom origins were attacked by Muslim herdsmen in what the media termed “sectarian violence.” The attacks were said to be reprisals for the encounters that left hundreds of ethnic Fulani Muslims dead in January in nearby Jos.
According to Associated Press reports, the total number of deaths from the most recent attack was confirmed on Wednesday by a Nigerian police official at 109, revised from widespread initial reports of 500 deaths.
The Holy Father urged Nigerian leaders to take a role in guiding the people to peace, appealing “to everyone in the country that has civil or religious responsibilities to do everything they can for the safety and the peaceful coexistence of all the population.”
He concluding by expressing his “closeness to the Pastors and to the Nigerian faithful” and praying that “strong and firm in hope, they may be true witnesses of reconciliation.”