ONDO, Nigeria (LifeSiteNews) – A Nigerian bishop from the diocese next to where a recent massacre of Catholics took place, reminded Christians to defend their lives in the face of aggression and danger, calling upon the government to intervene in the wake of heightened Christian persecution.
Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of the Diocese of Oyo made his remarks, later published by the Catholic News Agency (CNA), on June 17, 2022, during the Requiem Mass for the victims of the terror attack on St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church Ondo Parish, which took place on Pentecost Sunday.
“We have seen tragedies in Nigeria and brutal murders, but few can really be compared with the brutality and gruesomeness of the event on Pentecost Sunday,” said Bishop Badejo.
Bishop Badejo serves as president of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communication (CEPACS), and his diocese of Oyo is next to the Ondo Diocese, where the recent Pentecost massacre took place.
In his homily he lamented that the coffins containing those killed in the attack also held a “a part of Nigeria” which “lies dead, too.”
Because lying down here with these deceased ones are the joys, hopes, and aspirations of their families and the friends of Church of God, various communities from within and outside Nigeria.
“Even those who are maimed and wounded themselves, wherever they are, stand for Nigeria with all her self-inflicted wounds, bruised, brutalized, and violated,” he added. “So I ask: for how long shall this continue?”
The attack has increased sectarian tensions in the West African country with Christians under almost constant threat from radical Islamists.
The bishop highlighted this aspect, and criticized the Nigerian government, specifically President Muhammadu Buhari, for the insufficient effort to protect the Christian community in his country. He added that the federal government seems powerless to constrain the malign actions of the nomadic herders and insurgents and called for more action to be taken.
“We are not walking corpses merely waiting to be butchered. So we are compelled to ask: Are you still our leaders? Have you denounced leadership? How many more must die?,” he asked.
Bishop Badejo also recalled the Catechism’s teaching on self-defense, saying that “there exists a right to self-defense in the Catholic Church.”
“Life must be defended in the face of unwarranted aggression and impending risks,’ he reminded, in a move which could be seen to be at odds with the less confrontational approach that the Vatican has pursued for decades with Muslims.
SIGN this petition calling on Indian legislators to protect Christians from unjust anti-conversion laws.
Christians are being attacked relentlessly by violent Hindus in India, but some Indian states are compounding this persecution by jailing those accused of converting Hindus to Christ.
Using "anti-conversion laws", eight Indian states have outlawed any attempt by minority faiths such as Christianity to convert members of the majority Hindu population.
Please tell Indian legislators that their anti-conversion laws must be scrapped.
Christians know that, like St. Paul who himself was jailed (2 Tim 2:8-10), we cannot remain silent in announcing Christ to unbelievers (Acts 5:17-26), but our Indian brothers and sisters in faith are being imprisoned on trumped up charges when they have not violated any of these unjust laws.
Legislators in eight Indian states have created vaguely-worded "anti-conversion laws", leaving the door wide open to minorities being accused of "allurement" or "coercion" when sharing their faith with Hindus.
The wording often states that "no person should convert or attempt to convert, either directly or indirectly, any person from one religion to another by use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means".
The states of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand have already introduced these laws, with several more expected to follow.
Legislators have ignored the fact Christians are entirely opposed to forced conversions or deception, instead bowing to the demands of Hindu extremists worried that Christ is winning the hearts of Indians long maltreated in the inhumane caste system.
The false allegations of coercion made against Christians have resulted in the widespread persecution of believers across the country.
SIGN and SHARE this petition calling on Indian legislators to protect Christians from unjust anti-conversion laws.
As K.V. Turley reported on LifeSiteNews, one reason Christians and other minorities are persecuted is because of the growing popularity of the nationalist Hindutva ideology.
This ideology demands a Hindu-only India, resulting in sustained violence against those who would lead Hindus to Christ.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, then-General Secretary of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India, said as early as 2018 that even members of the ruling Barathiya Janata Party (BJP) are "using false accusations to incite hate. And nobody in their party or in the government is revoking their problematic statements.”
The latest anti-conversion bill is set to be passed in Karnataka state, where Christians will face jail terms of up to 10 years if found guilty of converting others by alleged "force", "fraudulent methods", or as a result of marriage.
Karnataka has seen a significant increase in Hindu attacks on Christian priests, pastors and laity, with the BBC reporting at least one violent incident in 21 out of 31 districts.
Please SIGN to help almost 30 million Christians, who make up less than 2.5% of the Indian population, live in peace.
Right-wing Hindu radicals are known to barge into houses or churches where prayer sessions are conducted and demand the identity of those in attendance.
If Hindus are in the audience, conversion charges are pressed and the pastors are arrested. The onus of proof is on the pastors, catechists or priests.
Another issue is that Catholic priests, brothers and nuns teach, educate and empower the dalits (untouchables), the tribals and the poor. These then stand up for their rights, which is not pleasing to many politicians.
This petition will be sent to the Indian ambassadors to the USA and Canada, the Ambassador at Large of the United States for International Religious Freedom, the High Representative of the EU's Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the president of India's ruling BJP party.
Indian legislators must be convinced to stop treating minorities with such contempt - speak up on their behalf now by signing the petition.
For More Information:
**Photo Credit: Video screenshot of a statue of Christ about to be destroyed by authorities in Karnataka on February 14, 2022**
Badejo joined his fellow Nigerian bishops in extending his compassion and prayers for other Christians who were murdered, kidnapped, and for those who are sacrificed in the native, pagan rituals. He urged the mourners to thank God for having blessed those killed with the gifts of “life, the faith and the privilege of belonging to Him and of returning to Him even in this incomprehensible manner.”
Finally, Bishop Badejo addressed the attackers, pleading with them to stop being perpetrators of destruction but rather repent and dedicate their lives to God. “The God of life calls on you to repent. The Church of Christ invites you to a change of heart to cast away the swords and embrace solitude and peace,” he said.
Why be an instrument of bloodshed in this beautiful country given to all? Why would you abuse and destroy humanity of which you are apart? You may make us cry and mourn, but we shall never stop inviting you to come and share in the love and joy of God, who loves everyone.
“Fill your heart with love and cast out hatred,” he urged.
It has recently been observed by Genocide Watch, which tracks the global rise in the persecution of Christians, that Nigeria has the highest rate of Christian genocide. The organization called Nigeria “The World’s Greatest Enemy of Christianity,” with estimates suggesting that 45,644 Christians had been killed since 2009 – the start of the Boko Haram uprising.
The data suggest that such violence is only increasing, with over 6,000 Christians killed between January 2021 through March 2022. Some 4,500 were also abducted in the same 15-month time frame.