ABUJA, NIGERIA - Christmas was a day of joy but also a day of tears and sorrow for Nigerian Christians. As the world celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace, the Nigerian Church was struck by senseless violence that wiped away entire families and slaughtered scores of worshippers at three churches: St. Theresa’s parish in the town of Madalla, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in Jos, and the church in Gadaka.  

I could have been among the victims but for divine providence. Until last April, when I was appointed as an assistant chaplain at the University of Abuja, I did weekend pastoral ministry at St. Theresa’s parish. But for that appointment I would have been in St. Theresa’s on Christmas day.

Published in International
January 3, 2012

Religion a core value

The Christmas morning bomb attacks on Nigerian churches that killed dozens of worshippers underscores why the Stephen Harper government cannot act soon enough to establish an Office of Religious Freedom.

Its creation was promised during last spring’s federal election and, under Foreign Minister John Baird, consultations began in October to set parameters for the new department. The Minister has promised details in coming weeks but, as yet, has not announced an opening date for the new office. Horrors like the carnage in Nigeria should spur him to keep this initiative on a government front burner.

Published in Editorial

LAGOS, Nigeria - Catholic leaders condemned the spate of bomb blasts in Nigeria and urged the government to get control of security.

Lagos Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie criticized the government for its failure to protect citizens.

Speaking at the dedication of St. Peter Church in Awka, the cardinal said the spate of bombings in a four-day period makes people wonder "what the government is doing with our money. If they cannot protect the lives of its citizens, then why do we have a government?"

Published in International

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI appealed for an end to violence in Nigeria, condemning the Christmas church bombings that led to the deaths of at least 39 people.

The celebration of Christmas leads people to pray in an even stronger way that God would "stop the hands of the violent who sow death and that justice and peace would reign in the world," the Pope said Dec. 26 as he recited the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square.

A group called Boko Haram, which has been promoting the adoption of Islamic law across Nigeria, claimed responsibility for the bombings. News reports said at least 35 people died at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, just outside Abuja. Other deadly bombs were set off at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in Jos and at police stations in three other cities.

Published in International

“Are you coming home for Christmas?”

“No, Uncle Buga, not this time.”

“Do you realize,” he said to me sounding emotional, “that you have not been home for Christmas since you left the country?”

Published in Vatican