- Feb 21, 2020
The very first Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society and Pastoral Life, taking place at Bigard Memorial Seminary in Enugu, one of the world’s largest Catholic seminaries, Dec. 5-8, is a chance to take the temperature of a continent deeply consequential for Catholic fortunes, given the stunning growth and youthful energy that permeates African Catholicism.
Say “Catholic priest” to the typical American and he or she may well reply “possible abuser,” due to the Church’s clerical sexual abuse crisis. Say the same thing to the typical Nigerian, and the instinctive response today probably would be “victim.”
After at least three Catholic priests have been murdered in 2019, Cardinal John Cardinal Onaiyekan says “insecurity is getting out of hand” in Nigeria.
For one Nigerian priest, the killing of several of his peers over the past few months is not so much a sign that Christians are being targeted as it is indicative of a much deeper, and systemic problem rooted in corruption and a “hidden agenda” to make Nigeria a Muslim nation.
An embattled Catholic diocese in southeastern Nigeria facing a mounting wave of violent attacks from Islamic militias has declared “enough is enough,” demanding that “bad” members of the largely Muslim Fulani tribe be “flushed out” of the area and that local self-protection groups be armed to provide their own security.
Sooner or later, the international community will be forced to recognize that the fate of Nigeria’s Christian population isn’t just a human rights issue – though it’s certainly that – but also a major global security concern.