NAIROBI, Kenya - While the Nigerian government negotiates with the Islamic militant group Boko Haram for the release of 200 abducted schoolgirls, some Church leaders in the country’s conflict-ridden north are expressing doubts about any impending resolution.

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LAGOS, Nigeria - Nearly 200 churches in the Maiduguri Diocese in northeastern Nigeria have been destroyed or razed by Boko Haram insurgents since August, a diocesan official said.

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I was 17, and had just finished high school in Nigeria. The world had opened up to me with all its beauty, charm and possibilities. I had to consider what I would do with my life. I needed the best that the world could offer. I spent time with my friends. We talked about our future and the kind of profession we wanted. 

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Growing up in Nigeria, Fr. Maurice Emelu never imagined his calling would take him around the world and eventually put him in front of TV cameras that reach up to 230 million homes in 144 nations.

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NAIROBI, KENYA - Five months after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls in Nigeria’s Borno State, the Islamic extremist group has begun occupying churches in the country’s northeastern region, Church officials there said.

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LAGOS, Nigeria - In an effort to curtail the spread of Ebola, the Archdioceses of Lagos and Abuja instructed their priests to suspend all forms of physical contact during Mass, including the traditional sign of peace.

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In northern Nigeria, mounting fears of militant female suicide bombers have raised calls to ban the hijab, or the veil that covers the head, chest and, in some cases, the entire body.

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LAGOS, Nigeria - Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos condemned twin bombings that claimed more than 100 lives in his city, saying they were setbacks to peace efforts.

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YAOUNDE, Cameroon - The Catholic bishops' conference of Cameroon has demanded the release of two Italian priests and a Canadian nun, a month after they were kidnapped by suspected Nigerian Islamists.

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VATICAN CITY - The Vatican issued an urgent appeal today for the release of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

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VATICAN CITY - The kidnapping of 300 teenage schoolgirls by the Islamist group Boko Haram has shamed Nigeria, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan said May 7.

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ISEYIN, Nigeria - Several Catholic bishops warned the Nigerian government to be wary of the consequences of granting amnesty to Boko Haram, a sect that wants to impose strict Islamic law, and at least one said Mass attendance had dropped because the Islamist sect often targeted churches with bombs.

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LAGOS, NIGERIA - Nigerian Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie criticized oil pipeline vandalism that led to the death of more than two dozen youths, saying if they had had jobs, their deaths might have been avoided.

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ABUJA, Nigeria - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan urged religious leaders to mold the characters of their followers to help stop the current crises facing the country.

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LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) -- A Nigerian archbishop joined others in his country in questioning the wisdom of a plan that the Nigerian government dialogue with the Boko Haram Islamic sect, responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in the past several years.

Critics, including Archbishop Felix Job of Ibadan, urged Nigerian authorities to be cautious of negotiating with an extremist "faceless group" that had been involved in maiming and killing of innocent Nigerians.

Archbishop Job also criticized a Boko Haram suggestion that among its delegates to the negotiations in Saudi Arabia would be former Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, the country's military ruler from 1983 to 1985 and a presidential candidate in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

Archbishop Job told Catholic News Service by telephone: "Is it not funny that the Boko Haram group, a faceless group, has a spokesman" and is seeking "dialogue with the Nigerian government as a means of resolving the insecurity?"

"Nigerians have not been told who are the sponsors of the faceless sectarian group that had been maiming and killing innocent Nigerians over time," he said. He said he wondered if the general's nomination might be "translated into meaning that he is indirectly one of the financiers of the sect."

Bishop M. John Goltok of Bauchi wondered why Saudi Arabia was chosen as the venue for the dialogue.

"There are a lot of complications involved in the issue,'' he said.

Among Boko Haram's targets have been Christian churches. One of the most recent attacks occurred Oct. 28 in the city of Kaduna, when a car bomb slammed into St. Rita's Catholic Church, killing at least eight people and injuring 135 -- many of them children.

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