WASHINGTON – On Pentecost Sunday (June 5), gunmen threw explosive devices and fired on the congregation gathered at St. Francis Xavier Church in the city of Owo, Ondo State in Nigeria, killing at least 50 people. In response to the attack in Owo, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace sent a letter of solidarity to the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria where he reiterated his solidarity with the Church in Nigeria amidst the unabated violence besetting Nigerians and the Church particularly. He also stated his hope that those responsible for these acts are brought to swift justice.
Bishop Malloy issued the following statement:
“Nigeria has sadly become all too familiar with such growing violence. In addition to the horrible loss of life, this attack is a disturbing development as it occurred in the far south of Nigeria where such bloodshed heretofore has been largely unknown. Just three weeks earlier, a young Christian student was accused by fellow students of blasphemy and brutally murdered. When police arrested two suspects, riots broke out directed at several Church buildings.
“The U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace has supported the Church in Nigeria for many years in its effort to stop terrorist attacks by Boko Haram and armed groups, to build peace between herders and farmers, and to ensure credible and transparent elections. Bishops on our committee have visited Nigeria and have received their Church leaders in Washington. We join our Holy Father, Pope Francis in commending the souls of the dead to the loving mercy of God and imploring ‘divine healing and consolation’ upon those who are grieving. The committee remains prayerfully determined as ever to support our brothers and sisters of the Church in Nigeria.”
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