Christmas: Not a Time of Comfort and Joy in Nigeria

In his annual Christmas day address, Pope Benedict XVI urged citizens of the earth to realize (and make the most of) the good soil on the earth.  It was clear from his message that the Pontiff intended to promote peace and hope:

“In this world, there is a good soil God has prepared,” the pope said. “Consequently, there is hope in the world; a Nigeria Persecution Christianshope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations.”

The speech was anything but naïve. The Pope chronicled the challenges facing humanity the world over. Specifically, Pope Benedict urged tolerance in the face of growing persecution.  One of the primary areas of concern is the church in Nigeria. For the past three years Christians in Nigeria have been attacked on Christmas.  Pope Benedict called attention to Nigeria, saying it is a place “where savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians.”

The Pope proved prescient in his remarks, as, once again, Nigerian Christians were under assault. Last year, 30 Christians were killed. This year, a dozen more lost their lives in two separate Christmas attacks.

One assault occurred at the Church of Christ in Nations in Postikum, in Yobe province. Gunmen attacked worshipers during prayer, killing six people, including the pastor, and setting the building on fire

Worshipers also were attacked at the First Baptist Church in Maiduguri, in Borno state. A deacon and five church members were killed.

As we gather with family and remember friends and loved ones this holiday season, may we also remember those who are ill-treated since we ourselves are in the body.

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