As Christians in the country face a campaign of escalating violence, one Nigerian priest spoke to Catholic News Agency about the suffering of the Church, and why he has hope of a final victory.
“I want other Catholics around the world to know of the suffering of our people,” Fr. Joseph Bature of the Diocese of Maidiguri, told CNA Monday in Washington, D.C.
Fr. Bature related the experience of trying to console a widow who had lost her children in violent anti-Christian attacks. “She had asked ‘where are our other brothers and sisters? Do they know what we go through?’” he recounted.
“Our people feel isolated, because this situation sometimes is poorly reported,” he said. “It’s the loneliness, the sense of isolation, and the frustration.”
Yet, he said, Christians in Nigeria have not lost hope.
“We are very hopeful. Even in the midst of our suffering, we know Christ is on our side,” he said. “This might be our Egypt, but [surely] the Promised Land awaits us. So we are full of hope also. We are not giving up.”
Fr. Bature was in Washington, D.C. this week, to speak with advocates and U.S. government officials about the persecution of Christians in Nigeria.
Attacks on Nigerian Christians are incessant and committed with impunity, Bature told CNA. They mainly come from three sources—the terror group Boko Haram, militant nomadic Fulani herdsmen, and the terror group Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap).
The list of recent attacks has been staggering. In February, militants set vehicles on fire that were carrying sleeping Christian travelers, killing 30.
Islamic State militants released a video in December, claiming that they were the ones who beheaded 10 Christians and shot another; they said the killings were revenge for the U.S. raid that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In another horrific attack on Dec. 26, a Catholic bridal party traveling from Maidiguri was attacked and beheaded by militants.
A January attack on Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna resulted in the abduction of four seminarians, one of whom was killed. At the funeral Mass of the seminarian Michael Nnadi on Feb. 11, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto called it a defining moment for the Church in Nigeria.
“Our nation is like a ship stranded on the high seas, rudderless and with broken navigational aids,” he said….
The above comes from a March 11 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.