In a letter to the Bishops of Nigeria, Pope Francis assured his prayers and solidarity with the African nation who are suffering from violent attacks by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
The Holy Father recognized the problems the country has been facing due to extremism and fundamentalism.
“Believers, both Christian and Muslim, have experienced a common tragic outcome, at the hands of people who claim to be religious, but who instead abuse religion, to make of it an ideology for their own distorted interests of exploitation and murder,” the Pope said.
Assuring them of his closeness, the 78 year old Pontiff said that he prays for the Nigerian people every day and expressed his desire for peace.
“Peace – as you know so well – is not only the absence of conflict or the result of political compromise or fatalistic resignation,” he wrote.
“Peace is for us a gift which comes from on high; it is Jesus Christ himself, the Prince of Peace, who has made of two peoples one. And only the man or woman who treasures the peace of Christ as a guiding light and way of life can become a peacemaker. “
Go Forward on the Way of Peace
Continuing his letter, Pope Francis expressed his thanks to the Church in Nigeria for their example of “hospitality, mercy and forgiveness” despite their trials. The Holy Father commended the clergy, religious men and women, missionaries and catechists who “never abandoned their flock.”
“To them, most particularly, I would like to express my solidarity, and to say: do not grow tired of doing what is right!” he wrote.
Concluding his letter, Pope Francis encouraged the Bishops of Nigeria to “go forward on the way of peace” as well as to accompany victims, the poor and the youth.
“Become promoters of a more just and fraternal society!” the Pope stated.
“I ask you to extend to priests, religious, missionaries, catechists, lay faithful and above all to those suffering members of the Body of Christ. May the Resurrection of the Lord bring conversion, reconciliation and peace to all the people of Nigeria! I commend you to Mary, Queen of Africa, and I ask you also to pray for me.”
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On ZENIT’s webpage:
For the full text of the Pope’s letter, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-letter-to-the-bishops-of-nigeria