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Nigerian archbishop fears new attacks on Christians in north

Catholic World News - January 19, 2012

Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, has reported that telephone text messages currently circulating in the north of the country warn “of plans by some Muslim groups to massacre Christians in the north on a specific night.” In light of recent events, the archbishop says, “it is understandable that one would not dismiss such texts as empty threats.” He was evidently referring to the spate of bloody attacks by Boko Haram terrorists.

Archbishop Onaiyekan said that Christians “should continue to be vigilant and security conscious all around us: in our homes, places of work and above all in our places of worship.” He asked Christians who have expertise in security affairs to help provide protection for churches. However, the archbishop underlined that the government should bear the brunt of the work in protecting all citizens. This protection, he said pointedly, “is our right as law-abiding citizens, and it is a duty of the state.”

The archbishop said that all Nigerians should “resist all attempts to turn us into enemies of one another.” He called for extra efforts to strengthen ties with moderate Muslim groups.

In his message the archbishop asked all priests to say two special prayers for the future of Nigeria at the close of every Mass: the Memorare and the Prayer for Nigeria in Distress. The latter is a prayer that was “composed many years ago and still valid for the present situation,” he said.

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