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Indian Catholics slam silence over Nigerian massacre

Catholic Congress members protest over mass killing of worshippers at a church on Pentecost Sunday

Clergymen carry white coffins containing the bodies of Catholic priests killed by Fulani herdsmen for burial at Ayati-Ikpayongo in Gwer East district of Benue State, Nigeria, on May 22

Clergymen carry white coffins containing the bodies of Catholic priests killed by Fulani herdsmen for burial at Ayati-Ikpayongo in Gwer East district of Benue State, Nigeria, on May 22. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 16, 2022 10:42 AM GMT

Updated: June 17, 2022 04:01 AM GMT

Catholics in India have questioned the silence of the global community over the brutal mass killing of Christians in southwest Nigeria recently and want it to take a strong stand against such atrocities.

Scores of Catholics belonging to the Catholic Congress based in Kerala state in southern India staged a rally in Kottayam district, a Christian stronghold, and condemned the massacre.

On June 5, Pentecost Sunday, gunmen believed to be Islamic extremists associated with Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) entered St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo state. They fired weapons, detonated explosives and killed at least 40 people, government agencies said.

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“We appeal to the global community to stand up against the mass murders in Nigeria,” said Catholic Congress president P.P. Joseph of Changanaserry Archdiocese. “Unless the global conscious rises up against such murders, humanity will not survive in this world.”

Father Jacob G. Palackappilly, spokesperson of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council, said the international community has not yet responded to the killing of Christians in Nigeria. 

“We want the United Nations to take a strong stand against such attacks, failing which the supremacy of only one religion will be established," he said.

“Sometimes I feel the international community is silenced or fears retribution so it is silent, but one thing is certain — all of humanity should rise up against such murders to protect humanity in the world"

“When it comes to the killing of Christians, the global community seems to be not giving the kind of serious response it should have, unlike in the case of a certain other religion [Islam] over a small statement or utterance against it.

“Sometimes I feel the international community is silenced or fears retribution so it is silent, but one thing is certain — all of humanity should rise up against such murders to protect humanity in the world.” 

Archbishop Joseph Perumthottam of Changanassery Archdiocese in Kerala wrote an editorial for Deepika (Light), a church-run daily, in Malayalam, the official language of the southern state.

“When it comes to the killing and persecution of Christians, certain media houses maintain silence. What sort of media ethics is this?” he wrote in a June 13 article.

The prelate claimed that in 2021 alone at least 6,000 Christians were slaughtered in Nigeria by Islamic terrorist groups such as Boko Haram among others. Since 2009, at least 40,000 Christians were killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria, he added.

The prelate also expressed concern over the spread of Islamic terror in other African countries and other parts of the world, noting that Christians are “the worst victims of persecution” and questioned why global powers could not protect human beings from the onslaught of Islamic terrorists.

"Islamic terrorism is on the rise across the globe on daily basis and it is time for world powers to take it as a very serious issue"

Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church, also condemned the killing of Christians in Nigeria.

“It is very painful to learn that many innocents are being killed only for being Christians. Islamic terrorism is on the rise across the globe on daily basis and it is time for world powers to take it as a very serious issue,” he said.

Shedding light on the rise in Christian persecution in India, the cardinal appealed to the federal and provincial governments to take exemplary action against those disturbing communal peace and harmony.

The New Delhi-based United Christian Forum (UCF) recorded 207 cases of persecution of Christians in 2022 alone. It documented 505 cases in 2021, which it described as the worst year for Christians in India.

The UCF also urged the federal government and judiciary to intervene immediately to check the rapid rise in incidents of violence, coercion and false arrests of Christians.

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