AFRICA/NIGERIA - Four churches burned by Boko Haram; Mgr. Kaigama: "regional approach to defeat them"Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - Four churches were burned in an attack probably committed by members of the jihadist group Boko Haram in Borno State, one of the three northern states of Nigeria where a state of emergency has been imposed (see Fides 21/5/2013). A group of armed men with improvised explosive devices and petrol bombs attacked the Hwa'a, Kunde, Gathahure and Gjigga communities on Gwoza Hills, burning the 4 churches, raiding and looting cattle and grain reserves belonging to the population.
"Unfortunately I do not have precise information and do not know what communities the Christian churches destroyed belong to," says to Fides Agency His Exc. Mgr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama Archbishop of Jos and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria. "All communications have been cut off with the areas affected by military operations and it is impossible to get in touch with the Bishop of Maiduguri," explains Mgr. Kaigama.
Despite this incident, the Archbishop said that "the operation of the Nigerian army and the imposition of the State of emergency has made the population feel better and safer."
Before the recent attacks in Niger (see Fides 04/06/2013), it is certain that Boko Haram is coordinating with jihadist groups expelled from Mali. "Boko Haram is a regional issue and should be resolved with a regional approach," said Mgr. Kaigama. "We are paying the price of terrible negligence on behalf of our intelligence and our police forces who did not deal with the phenomenon in time. Now we need to bring together the resources of Nigeria, Niger and Mali to address the threat of jihadist groups. I think, however, that eventually they will be defeated," concluded Bishop Kaigama. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 17/06/2013)
Harissa (Agenzia Fides) - The Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites Boutros Bechara Rai consecrated Lebanon and the entire Middle East to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, praying that all the peoples of the region are freed "from the sins that lead to divisions, aggression and violence ". The solemn Act of Consecration took place yesterday, Sunday, June 16, with the recitation of a prayer read during the Eucharist Liturgy presided by the Patriarch in the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa, in the presence of Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and designated Prime Minister Tammam Salam.
A multitude of believers gathered around the Basilica to implore with the Act of Consecration that the Country of the cedars is not overwhelmed by the contagion of sectarian conflict that is afflicting Syria.
During the homily, His Beatitude Rai recalled that Lebanon is the only Country where the Solemnity of the Annunciation, on March 25, is celebrated by Christians and Muslims together as a national holiday. The Patriarch also reiterated the urgent need for reconciliation between the political forces and in particular between the two opposing coalitions – that on March 8th and March 14 - which he stigmatized for having compromised "the image of Lebanon and its co-existence ", crippling institutions and pushing the Lebanese people to get involved in the Syrian conflict. The Head of the Maronite Church also reiterated his full support to President Sleiman and described the regular Lebanese army as the only legitimate "protector" of Lebanon. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 17/06/2013).