US Christians express solidarity with persecuted churches of Nigeria

Victim of Christmas bombing, Nigeria 2011.

Catholic Relief Services joins the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in standing in solidarity with the Catholic Church of Nigeria and our brothers and sisters affected by the Christmas Day attacks on churches, as well as both Christians and Muslims affected by the ongoing unrest. CRS is ready to assist the local Church as it responds to those affected by the ongoing violence. At this point, there has been no impact on any CRS programs.
Earlier this week, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the USCCB, wrote to Archbishop John Onaiyekan to express solidarity, denounce the violence and pray for peace.

December 27, 2011
Most Reverend John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan
 Archbishop of Abuja
 Archbishop’s House
 Area 3. Section 2
 P.O. Box 286
 Garki, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria
 Sent Via Email
Your Excellency:
As Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to express the solidarity of our Conference with the Church in Nigeria in the wake of the heinous attacks on Christian churches which took place on Christmas.In union with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, we reject these senseless acts of violence.We pray for all those who have been killed or injured, as well as their families.With our Holy Father we affirm, “Violence is a path that leads only to pain, destruction and death; respect, reconciliation and love are the paths to peace.”
According to press accounts, you indicated that Church leaders have urged the government of Nigeria to “identify and eliminate the dens of these terrorist groups.”We support you in this call for accountability.The White House has indicated that our government has contacted Nigerian officials regarding these terrorist acts and has pledged “to assist them in bringing those responsible to justice.”Please be assured that we will contact White House officials to thank them for this commitment and to affirm the importance of honoring this pledge.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Church in Nigeria at this time of loss and sorrow.We pray that the New Year will bring peace to your beloved country.
Fraternally yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Richard E. Pates
 Bishop of Des Moines


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