Tuesday, December 27, 2011

AFRICA : NIGERIA : PRAYER NEEDED FOR END TO VIOLENCE AGAINST CHRISTIANS

CATHOLIC ONLINE REPORT: By Deacon Keith Fournier
The reports of this kind of violence and bloodshed all flow one way. Thankfully, I have not had to write one story about Christians bombing Muslims in their mosques

In the aftermath of the explosion, thirty five innocent Christian victims were dead and dozens more were wounded. Early reports reveal the horror of the action committed by these Islamic Jihadists. One of the innocent members of the parish ran up to the priest and pleaded, "Father, pray for me. I will not survive." This Jihadist group is known by several names. They are called al-Sunnah wal Jamma - or "Followers of the Prophet's Teachings". They are murderers.

St Theresa's Catholic Church
St Theresa's Catholic Church ABUA,Nigeria (Catholic Online) - On Christmas Day Nigerian Catholics gathered in St Theresa's Catholic Church for Holy Mass. In an act of pure evil, Islamic militants belonging to a group which is popularly called "Boko Harem" exploded a bomb outside of the Church.
The phrase "Boko Harem" means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language and expresses the hatred the members of thisIislamic group have for all things "western" and Christian. These violent Jihadists intended to kill, maim and injure Christians attending Holy Mass. That is exactly what happened.
In the aftermath of the explosion thirty five innocent Christian victims were dead and dozens more were wounded. Early reports reveal the horror of the action committed by these Islamic Jihadists. One of the innocent members of the parish ran up to the priest and pleaded, "Father, pray for me. I will not survive."
This Jihadist group is known by other names. They are called al-Sunnah wal Jamma - or "Followers of the Prophet's Teachings". They refer to themselves officially as Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, which means "people committed to the propagation of the prophet's teachings and Jihad". They are murderers.
The organization was founded in 2002. Their members are outspoken in their intention to impose an Islamic Caliphate in Nigeria. After the bombings, a spokesman for the group claimed responsibility in an interview with a local newspaper called "The Daily Trust".
They told the newspaper "There will never be peace until our demands are met. We want all our brothers who have been incarcerated to be released; we want full implementation of the Sharia system and we want democracy and the constitution to be suspended."
They did not limit their evil to only Catholic Christians. These terrorists also bombed a Pentecostal Christian Church, the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church, in the city of Jos.
On the Feast of St Stephen the Deacon and Proto - Martyr, the day after Christmas, a burdened Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the faithful who had gathered for the Angelus prayer. He spoke from his heart, urging prayers for those whose "lands are drenched in innocent blood."
He specifically addressed the bombing on Christmas Day in Nigeria saying, "Today we celebrate Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr. May his example inspire us to be courageous in living our faith in Christ our Savior and ready to forgive those who harm us".

The Pope reminded the faithful that St Stephen gave his life for his Christian faith. He spoke of his heroic witness, noting that even as he was being stoned to death he prayed "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" and begged forgiveness for his accusers.He extolled the witness of the early martyrs of the Church, a topic which he has frequently addressed in the last few years.
Father Federico Lombardi is the chief spokesman for the Vatican as director of the Holy See Press Office. He said in a statement, "Regretfully the attacks at the Church of Saint Theresa in Abuja, timed to coincide with Christmas Day celebrations, are once again the expression of the cruelty of blind and absurd hatred devoid of any respect for human life and represent an attempt to generate and fuel further hatred and confusion,"
"We express our closeness to the suffering of the Church and of all the Nigerian people who have been affected by violent terrorism even during these days that should be of joy and peace," he added. "While we pray for the victims, we also express the hope that this senseless violence will not weaken the will for peaceful cohabitation and dialogue in the nation."
The word "Martyr" derives from a Greek word which means "witness." The Catholic faith proclaims that the shedding of one's blood in fidelity to Jesus Christ is the final witness to the Faith. That is what happened to our brethren in Nigeria on Christmas day. They were killed for being Christians.Unfortunately, the blood of the martyrs seems to be flowing more frequently these days as militant Islamic terrorism increases.
In the early Church, altars were built over the graves of the martyrs which the early Christians revered. They often became the place where the Eucharist was celebrated. The practice of reverencing the bones of the martyrs showed the respect with which the body was held by the early Christians and their absolute belief in the bodily resurrection, a tenet of the Christian faith.
The Pope reminded the faithful that in times of increased persecution against Christians, we should again remember these early martyrs, recalling their heroic virtue in order to draw inspiration. We should honor them as "teachers of virtue," "living witnesses", and "silent messengers".
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that "Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude" (CCC #2471 - 2473)
Pope Benedict XVI spoke of his closeness to the Christians in Nigeria and all who have been affected by "this senseless act". He called for peace, respect, reconciliation and love, noting as he regularly does that violence leads to pain, destruction and death.
We call on our global readership to pray for our brethren in Nigeria who were killed by these extremists while they gathered for worship on Christmas. Pray for those who mourn their loss. Pray for all Christians in Nigeria who face this growing threat from evil hiding behind a claim of religion.

We call upon world leaders - in particular we implore the US Administration - to loudly speak out against this overt persecution of Christians.
We challenge Muslims in Africa who are truly opposed to this evil act to publicly speak out against other Muslims who, purporting to follow Islam, commit terrorist acts against Christians.

In some circumstances, silence implies consent.These bombings are just such a circumstance.
The reports of this kind of violence and bloodshed all flow one way. Thankfully, I have not had to write one story about Christians bombing Muslims in their mosques. That is because Christians do not engage in such evil in the name of God.

-http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=44196

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