This report is contributed by John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need.
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More than 5,000 Catholics in a single diocese in northeastern Nigeria have been killed; at least 100,000 have been displaced; and 350 churches have been destroyed. Such is the tally of terror inflicted by Boko Haram in the Diocese of Maiduguri.
The figures were published earlier this month in the “Situation Report on the activities of Boko Haram in the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri,” a copy of which was obtained by international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. The report notes that of the more than 350 churches that were destroyed, “a good number of them [were] destroyed more than once.”
With more than three-quarters of the diocese still under Boko Haram control, the report states that 22 of the diocese’s 40 parish centres and chaplaincies have been deserted, with a number of them now occupied by Boko Haram militants. In addition, 32 of the 40 primary schools have been deserted. What’s more, 26 of the region’s 46 priests are currently displaced as well as 200 catechists and 30 women religious. Four of the diocese’s five convents were closed. The report says the diocese now counts 7,000 widows and 10,000 orphans.
Father Gideon Obasogie, the Diocese of Maiduguri’s director of social communications, said that “people are very scared and those who are able to return home find there is nothing left.” The territory of the diocese covers the whole of Borno, Yobe and part of Adamawa state
Nonetheless, Father Obasogie told Aid to the Church in Need: “The good Lord has always been on our side. He has seen us through thick and thin. Our faith has been purified through persecution.”
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)