Jos (Agenzia Fides) – The recent episodes of violence that have plagued the Plateau State (central Nigeria) in the past months (see Fides 17/3/2010 and 25/3/2010) were at the heart of the discussions at the 8th General Assembly of the Archdiocese of Jos, the State’s capital. The theme of the Assembly was: “The Challenges of Religious and Political Conflicts to the Church in Plateau State” and it was held August 16-20 at the “Sacred Heart Pastoral Centre” in Jos.
“The General Assembly regrets the loss of lives and property as a result of these crises in the state and we condole with the bereaved families, while praying for the souls of the departed to rest in peace,” says the final statement sent to Agenzia Fides.
“There is no doubt that either directly or indirectly we have all suffered from the crises in the state,” the document continues. “In spite of the severe economic, political, social and security challenges that we face in the State and the country at large, we encourage Christians not to lose faith in the Almighty God nor be paralyzed by fear and anger but rather, to renew their love for God and neighbour. We resolve to step up our teaching of the Church on the culture of love. The Church continues to teach love, peace, reconciliation; no matter the cost. Every Catholic is called to be an agent of the change we want to see. We pray for peace in our hearts, our homes, our state and country. Let us be the first to say ‘no to violence’ and be in the frontline of developing a culture of peace and non violence.”
The Assembly recognize the efforts made by the police force and government authorities in keeping peace in the region and encourage all citizens not to take justice into their own hands, but to inform security authorities of any suspicious movement.
“We restate the importance of dialogue in conflict resolution. The stand of the Catholic Church is that dialogue remains a veritable means to peace. The dialogue of life means reaching out lovingly to another person, irrespective of ethnic or religious differences. The recent crises have generated so much mistrust that it will take a lot of work to rebuild Muslim-Christian trust and relationship.”
Various hypotheses on the cause of the violence emerged in the assembly debate. “The lack of clear understanding of the origin and cause of the crises has generated problems even among Christians. While some see nothing in the crises other than the attempt by Muslims to encroach on the sacred space of what is considered a very Christian State, others think that the root causes of the crises are ethnic, social and political, but given a religious coloration. The crises must be put in right perspective. The causes are multiple and so religion alone should not be blamed,” the message emphasized. (LM) (Agenzia Fides 23/8/2010)
Message from the 8th General Assembly of the Archdiocese of Jos (in English)