On the 4th Sunday of Easter, April 29, 2012, the faithful gathered for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being offered at Kano's Bayero University. Evil Islamic jihadists used small explosives to draw the faithful out and then shot those who fled. The blood of the martyrs is flowing as militant Islamic terrorism increases and establishes a new beachhead in Africa. Africa is one of the great centers of the renewal of the Church in the Third Millennium. The words of Tertullian are still true, "The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church."
KANO, Nigeria (Catholic Online) - On the 4th Sunday of Easter, April 29, 2012, the faithful gathered for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being offered at Kano's Bayero University. Evil Islamic jihadists used small explosives to draw the faithful out and then shot those who fled.
Vatican Radio reported "twenty one people are being mourned in Nigeria . after they were killed by gunmen who attacked Christian religious services on Sunday in the north of the country. The coordinated assaults happened at a university campus, during the observance of a religious service, and a church. "This horrific attack really defies all logic", said the Archbishop of Jos and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, Ignatius Kaigama, reacting to Sunday's killings.
The Archbishop said that people are "in a state of shock", wondering when the violence will stop. He added that his Archdiocese has been touched by violence recently noting, "My church was attacked, so many killed. A few weeks ago we had the one month's mind of the death of 14 of our parishioners who died in that attack."
Aid to the Church in Need reported that "following a recent terrorist attack on worshippers at a Mass in Kano, two leading Nigerian prelates criticized the government's response to the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram."
"At first we were ready to be patient with the government when it was saying that this kind of Islamic terrorism is new," said Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, the nation's capital. "It has become clear that we have a weak government that has put together a whole lot of compromises that means that the action that should be taking place is not taking place."
"The rampant attacks show that government security is not working. Why the government cannot identify the people involved baffles the imagination. We pay tax money and we have a right to know what is being done about the problem."
All evidence points to Boko Harem as the perpetrators of this evil attack. The phrase "Boko Haram" means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language. These Islamist terrorists hate all things western and Christian. They are Jihadists who intend to forcibly establish 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.
On Wednesday, March 7, 2012, they killed a customs official, a five year old boy and at least two others. They did so intentionally, in cold blood and in the name of Allah. They set fire to a police station, a government building and two churches, one Catholic and one belonging to the Christian Brethren. They blew up vehicles, motorcycles and terrorized a town for three hours - all, in the name of Allah.
This Islamist group has been terrorizing northern Nigeria for over two years. They regularly claim responsibility for their evil behavior without any remorse or regret. On Thursday, March 8, 2012, they killed a British and an Italian hostage. None of the reports indicated how the murders occurred but, the track record of similar Jihadists points to beheadings. We have only to remember Danny Pearl. In fact, we MUST remember Danny Pearl!
The two victims were innocent engineers who had been taken by these evil Islamists in May of 2011. Efforts to negotiate for their release were unsuccessful. So were efforts to rescue them. Their families are still in mourning.
We reported on the horrible bombing outside of St Theresa's Catholic Church on Christmas Day. That evil act, perpetrated by these same Islamic terrorists who refer to themselves as the "Nigerian Taliban," was followed by an ultimatum issued to Christians in Northern Nigeria to leave in three days or face further violence.
After the Christmas bombings, a spokesman told a local newspaper called The Daily Trust, "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."
Vatican Radio reported that Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, the Vice President of the Nigerian Bishop's Conference, 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".
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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