The three Catholic Bishops in Niger – Archbishop Michel Cartatéguy SMA of Niamey, Bishop Ambroise Ouédraogo of Maradi diocese and the Auxiliary bishop of Niamey, Bishop Djalwana Laurent Lompo – addressed a Message to the Muslim community: “May the example of Abraham bear fruits of mutual respect“.
In a report carried by FIDES [the news agency for the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples] the bishops stated that “when those who kill in God’s name are engulfed in the horror of terror, we address urgent prayers so that through the example of Abraham, who humbly allowed himself to be guided by the will of God, divert their weapons and their hatred for a sacrifice that God really likes”.
Their Message was on the occasion of the feast of Tabaski, called the Aid El Adha [feast of sacrifice] in some African countries, the most important Muslim feast which commemorates the submission of Ibrahim (Abraham) to God, agreeing to sacrifice his only son.
In this way, the Bishops of Niger echo what was said by Pope Francis in his meeting with the authorities during his recent trip to Albania “No one should consider themselves to be the ‘armor’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression! Religion is far from causing division,it is the very foundation of freedom and brotherhood“.
“Muslim, Christian religious holidays, or those of other faiths, are always favourable opportunities to get closer to God, who fills us with blessings when these feasts are celebrated in friendship and brotherhood”, the bishops continue, emphasising that this feast “reconciles Muslims and Christians because it connects us to our common ancestor, Abraham, the Father of Believers”. The message ends with the hope that “our lives as believers, produce fruits of tolerance and mutual respect“. (Agenzia Fides 02/10/2014)