We reported on the horrible bombing outside of St Theresa's Catholic Church on Christmas Day. That evil act, perpetrated by a group of Islamic terrorists who proudly refer to themselves as the "Nigerian Taliban," has now been followed by an ultimatum issued to Christians in Northern Nigeria to leave in three days or face further violence.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.
ABUA,Nigeria (Catholic Online) - We reported on the horrible bombing outside of St Theresa's Catholic Church on Christmas Day. That evil act, perpetrated by a group of Islamic terrorists who proudly refer to themselves as the "Nigerian Taliban," has now been followed by an ultimatum issued to Christians in Northern Nigeria to leave in three days or face further violence.
A spokesman for the group called "Boko Haram" named Abul Qaqa told reporters "our Muslim brothers are advised to return to the north, because we have evidence that they will be attacked. We also issue a three-day ultimatum to the southerners living in the north of Nigeria, to leave. We have serious indications to suggest that the soldiers only kill the innocent Muslims in areas where government has declared a state of emergency. We will face them decisively to protect our brothers."
The phrase "Boko Harem" means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language. The terrorists hate all things "western" and Christian. They are Jihadists who have expressed their intention to forcibly esytablish an Islamic Caliphate and impose Shariah Law.
They are also 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 and terrorists who use an appeal to religion to attempt to justify evil.
After the Christmas bombings, a spokesman claimed responsibility in an interview with a local newspaper called "The Daily Trust" saying "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."
Now, the terrorist group has issued a three-day ultimatum for Christians to leave the North of Nigeria and has called for all Muslims living in the South to move North. They have signaled their intention to fight government troops and to expand their violent attacks against Christians and others who resist their Jihad.
Vatican Radio reports that Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, the Vice President of the Nigerian Bishop's Conferencehas urged Nigerians to not to allow their country to be overtaken by terror: "Churches have been destroyed and lives were lost and there is no sign that this might end, until the government intervenes decisively.
"We continue to ask Christians to be vigilant and aware of the issue of safety when they go to church and even in their own homes. We have appealed that there be no retaliation and we continue to 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".
Archbishop Kaigama added, "We continue to appeal to reason, for dialogue. It is possible for Muslims and Christians to reason together. We know that there are other forces behind the so-called Boko Haram.
"We do not even know who the Boko Haram really are, what they want, where they get their arms from. What is certain is that there are some forces behind them, either in Nigeria or abroad, who want to profit from instability in our country, but we will not give in to terrorism, we will not allow these fundamentalists to ruin our country".
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."
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)
That is what is happening to our brethren in Nigeria - Christian martyrdom at the hands of militant Jihadist Islamists. They are being killed by evil men 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.
Those 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 Africa.
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