In his letter, written to the Nigerian bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg, and the President of COMECE (Commission of the Bishop’s Conferences of the European Union), has promised the persecuted Nigerian Christians that he would advocate for an increased EU action and support.
On behalf of the European Union, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, one of the next year’s IEC speakers expressed solidarity with the Christian communities of the African country. As to the Jesuit Cardinal: “Christians are under continuous attacks of terrorists, insurgents and militants”.
An estimated 6,000 Nigerian Christians have been massacred over the past five years by the Boko Haram terrorist organisation and by the members of the Muslim Fulbs (in other words aka Fulani) ethnic group. In the first five months of this year there were more than 600 fatalities as a consequence of Islamic extremists’ persecution on religious grounds.
One of the speakers of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, John Onaiyekan, first Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria has already reported many times on the Nigerian volatile situation as well as on the violent, bloody events. Archbishop of Onaiyekan, being a great communicator for peace and coexistence of various religions, does not seem to be left alone. https://www.iec2020.hu/en/news-press/life-land-controversies
On June 9, at least 81 people have been killed by Boko Haram’s fighters in the North-Eastern Nigerian state of Borno. Prior to this, on June 1, also in the North-Eastern region of the country a protestant Pastor and his wife have been murdered. They were working on their farm when an armed group attacked them. Their eight children have been left orphaned.
On January 8 of this year, four seminarians – age between 18 and 23- were kidnapped by the militants from the Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna. One of them, Michael Nnadi, age 18, have been killed. On March 1, right after the Sunday Mass, Father David Echiodat, a Nigerian priest was kidnapped by the Islamic extremists, fortunately he has been released a few days later.
The Commission of the Bishop’s Conferences of the European Union sounded alarm and strongly called the EU member states “to pay more attention and to increase their efforts to end the violence in Nigeria, while bringing criminals to justice, supporting the victims and promoting the dialogue and peace.”
Leaders of the United States also voiced their concerns and called for support for the Nigerian Christians. Former Congressman, Frank Wolf suggested that the U.S. should delegate a special envoy for Nigeria to focus on the protection of the Christians, to stop the genocide of Christians in the region and to prevent further destabilization of the country.
In February, Samuel Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom reported to the CNA that as for violations of religious freedom, Nigeria was one of the most vulnerable and of highest concern of the countries. He also raised his concern that the Nigerian dangerous and volatile situation might spread to the nearby countries as well, if nothing was done urgently to put an end on the religious persecution.
Cardinal Hollerich emphasized that he was extremely worried about the situation of people who were forced to leave their homes so to escape from the serial violence. Archbishop of Luxembourg said: “I do keep in my heart and thoughts all those young people, who were forced to escape from their country due to violence and lack of economic prospects.” Further on he added: “Europe should welcome and protect Christ’s followers.”