Pope Francis has lamented Sunday’s terrorist attack on St. Francis Xavier Church in Owo, Ondo State, where the gunmen killed dozens and injured many others.
Pope offered his condolences to the victims of a terror attack and sent his prayer through Matteo Bruni, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, on Sunday.
“Prays for the victims and for the country, painfully attacked at a time of celebration, and he entrusts everyone to the Lord, that God might send His Spirit to console them,” Vatican News quoted Pope Francis as praying.
Also, Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, of the Diocese of Ondo, expressed his closeness to the victims and their families, according to Fr. Augustine Ikwu, the Communications Director for the diocese.
Fr. Ikwu said fears were rising that many more people might die from their wounds as he lamented that the Church had been “violated.”
He denied initial reports on social media that the attackers had kidnapped the priest and other members of the congregation.
“All the priests in the parish are safe and none was kidnapped,” said Fr. Ikwu in a press release. “The Bishop of the Diocese is also with them at this trying time.”
He added that the Bishop also urged Catholics to “remain calm, be law-abiding, and pray for peace and normalcy to return to our community, state, and country.”
Rev. Fr. John Oluoma of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja on his official Facebook page reacted to the dastardly act by calling on the Knights to act. His post read in part: “Knighthood was established to protect the church, if I’m not mistaken, from external aggression. It’s time to up the game. I plead, appeal and suggest that Knights in the church should organise and get licensed guns. Drop the ceremonial swords for now, get government licensed guns, get some members trained and carry the guns concealed for eventualities like Owo massacre.
“Self-defence is not against Christian and Catholic doctrine. Parishes that are too poor to have government licensed automatic guns should be assisted by the rich ones. If we have to dedicate the bazaar of one year to achieve this, let it be. Let’s help government to ward off killers from worship centres. It is practically impossible for government to deploy security operatives to all churches, so this is a necessary complementary efforts. Knights of the church, it’s time”.
In the same vein, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the killing of worshipers at St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State.
Reacting, CAN, in a statement issued by Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, media assistant to the CAN President, His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle, described the development as “outrageous”.
“The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the unprovoked attacks and killing of several innocent worshippers at the St Francis Catholic Church, Owa-luwa Street, Owo, and called on the security agencies to apprehend the perpetrators of the dastardly criminality.
“This is sad, wrong, condemnable, outrageous, unacceptable, and satanic. There is no explanation for this unprovoked attack and assault on a place of worship. This is raw persecution. These people are possessed, and demonic and are not working for the good of the country. May God descend heavily on them and fight them mindless agents of Satan from their roots in Jesus’ name,” CAN said.
It, therefore, called for a total overhauling of the security architecture and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the recycling of criminals and terrorists in the name of de-radicalising programme.
”If the programme is not counterproductive, how come the criminalities are always on the increase and nowhere is safe again,” it asked.
CAN also condoled with the families of the victims, the Catholic Church and the government, and people of Ondo State over the incident.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, via a statement he issued in response to the attack, also expressed condolences for the families of the victims and ordered emergency agencies to assist the injured.
“No matter what, this country shall never give in to evil and wicked people, and darkness will never overcome light. Nigeria will eventually win,” read the President’s statement.