Despite the Boko Haram bombings of churches and public places in the north, top church leaders are unanimous that the crisis cannot be seen as a war between Christians and Muslims.
Speaking recently, the Archbishop of Kaduna City, Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso, stressed that there is no religious conflict in the country.
Archbishop Ndagoso urged the faithful to resist any temptation to retaliate the suicide bombing which occurred during Sunday mass at St. Rita’s Catholic Church Kaduna on October 28 where nine people were left dead and more than 134 people, including the parish priest Fr. Michael Boni, injured.
He reiterated calls for peace and forgiveness.
“Working for peace is not an optional extra that we can choose to ignore,” the archbishop said. “We can only choose to ignore it at our own peril.”
According to the archbishop’s report there were more than 1,000 worshippers in the church when a jeep loaded with explosives rammed through the wall of the compound — after failing to gain entrance through the security gate.
Archbishop Ndagoso said he was speaking out “to continue to call for calm, forgiveness, reconciliation, justice in order to give peace a chance.”
Commending young Christians for not taking the law into their own hands after the attack, he went on to say: “Sometimes God allows very difficult and challenging situations to come our way in order for us to bear authentic Christian witness and, I think that the one we have at hand is one such rare moment.
“We should and must rise up to it to be witnesses of the Gospel.”
Archbishop Ndagoso also stressed that there is not a religious conflict in the country.
“Christians and Muslims are not at war with each other,” he said. “Our country is at war with religious fanatics and criminals who are killing innocent Nigerians regardless of their religion.”
Archbishop Ndagoso’s words echo those of Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, who was in the UK last month to address Aid to the Church in Need’s benefactors.
Archbishop Kaigama also said he wanted to dispel the impression that Christians and Muslims in Nigeria were at war.
“People say the Christians and Muslims are fighting each other – no that is not the case, we are not at war, there is not a religious war.
“The problem is there is a tiny group, a fanatical group, by the name of Boko Haram. They are the ones who have started a cycle of attacks destruction and killing in Nigeria.”
Sunday and daily Masses resumed in St. Rita’s Church starting on Sunday, Nov. 4.