Boko Harem Jihadis Attack Catholic Mass, Kill Worshippers
preach peace, hoping that all of us in Nigeria, Muslims and Christians, we will be able to work and live happily together. This is our position: no violence, no retaliation. We want to live in peace".
On the day after Christmas, the Feast of St Stephen the Deacon and Proto - Martyr, a visibly burdened Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the faithful gathered for the Angelus prayer. He spoke from his heart, urging prayers for those whose, "lands are drenched in innocent blood."
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, director of the Holy See Press Office 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. 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)
What is happening to our brethren in Nigeria should be of concern to us. The threat of violent, evil, Jihadism is not decreasing. If anything, it is increasing. For someone who remembers the cold war, even to the point of drills where we hid under our desks, it calls to mind the great need for a National resolve. It also makes the threat of militant Marxism look mild in comparison.
The victims of this evil are being killed precisely because they are Christians. The blood of the martyrs seems to be flowing more frequently these days as militant Islamic terrorism increases and establishes a new beachhead in Africa. For Catholics and other Christians, we cannot - we must not- fail to act. Africa is one of the great centers of the renewal of the Church in the Third Millennium.
The words attributed to Tertullian in the Second Century of the Church still hold out their promise: "The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church." We are living in a new missionary age. Pray for our brethren in Nigeria.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Jihad, Jihadis, Jihadists, Islam, Boko Harem, Muslim, Africa, Anti-Catholic, Deacon Keith Fournier
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