NIGERIA – Nigerian priest urges Western leaders to do more for country’s Christians

Crux | Christopher White | March 13,2020

Western nations have an obligation to defend Nigerian Christians being slaughtered by Boko Haram since many are being killed because the militant group views them as being “allies of the West,” says one Catholic priests from the African country.

According to Father Joseph Bature Fidelis of the Diocese of Maiduguri, “the rise of militant groups is growing very high and that should be the concern of Western leaders to say ‘we need to step in there and we need to help these people.’”

“It is very clearly stated by Boko Haram that they are persecuting Christians because they fear Christians are allies of the West,” he told Crux during a visit to the U.S. sponsored by the international papal charity Aid to the Church in Need, which supports suffering Christians around the globe.

While Bature said that Christians in Nigeria aren’t necessarily allies “in the strictest sense,” Boko Haram has targeted them for their support of Western civilization and Western education.

“If we are being persecuted for being allies, they should defend us,” he said of the duty of Western nations to proactively respond to the dire situation where an estimated 1,000 Nigerians have been killed for their faith last year alone and more than 6,000 have been suffered death since 2015.

Bature is one of just over 40 active priests of the large diocese which covers nearly three states within the country – one in which Catholics are a tiny minority currently estimated at 210,000, following the displacement of over 100,000 who fled the region’s violence.

“The numbers keep declining,” said Bature, where many Christians have been displaced into neighboring Cameroon.

Surrounding the tiny population of Christians are 4.5 million Muslims, some of whom have been radicalized by extremist groups within the country.

“Being situated in the midst of Muslims defines, the life, the faith and the vocations of everything they do daily,” Bature said of the region’s Catholics. “It is not an easy thing. It is a challenging responsibility, but that is what we want to do – to bring the light of Christ.”

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