VATICAN CITY, 9 MAR 2010 (VIS) – Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. yesterday expressed “concern and horror” at the violent conflicts which have taken place in Nigeria in recent days, and which have led to the deaths of five hundred Christians of the Berom ethnic group in villages in the centre-north of the country, at the hands of Muslims of the Fulani ethnic group.
Fr. Lombardi also explained that the events are to be seen “not as a religious, but a social confrontation“.
For his part, Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, speaking to Vatican Radio, affirmed that “this is a classic conflict between herdsmen and farmers, only the Fulani are all Muslims and the Berom all Christians. The international media are quickly led to report that it is Christians and Muslims who are killing one another; but this is not true, because the killings are not caused by religion but by social, economic, tribal and cultural issues. The victims are poor people who know nothing about, and have nothing to do with, any of this and are completely innocent. For our part in the Church, we continue to work to promote good relations between Christians and Muslims, seeking to reach agreement in an attempt to overcome violence and to work together to face the real political and ethnic problems”.
“We pray for peace, for good government and for truth. And we pray also that people may realise that the only way to survive in this country is to recognise one another as brothers and citizens of the same nation”, the archbishop concluded.
At his Wednesday General Audience at the Vatican the Holy Father, on 10 March, spoke of the violence in Jos: “My deepest condolences also go to the victims of the terrible violence that has bloodied Nigeria, not even sparing defenceless children. Once again I say from the bottom of my heart that violence does not resolve conflicts, but only increases their tragic consequences. I appeal to those who hold positions of civil and religious authority in the country to strive for the security and peaceful coexistence of all the population. Finally, I express my closeness to Nigerian pastors and faithful and I pray that, strong and firm in hope, they may be true witnesses of reconciliation.”.
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