UPDATED – VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis sent his condolences to the victims and survivors of a deadly shooting that occurred during Mass Aug. 6 at a parish in Nigeria.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, expressed the pope’s sentiments in a message dated Aug. 7 to Bishop Hilary Odili Okeke of Nnewi.
Pope Francis, the message said, was “deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury following the violent attack” in St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu, a town located in the Nigerian southern state of Anambra.
According to the Nigerian newspaper, The Vanguard, witnesses say a gunman entered during an early morning Sunday Mass and opened fire during the prayer of the faithful.
The BBC and other news outlets reported Aug. 7 that at least 11 people were killed and as many as 18 others wounded as they attempted to flee the carnage. While no suspects have been caught, authorities believe the target was a young businessman involved in a drug deal gone wrong.
The pope extended “heartfelt condolences” to the faithful of the diocese, especially “the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy.”
In southwestern Nigeria, bishops called for the government to strengthen security to guard against the murder of innocent citizens.
In a statement at the end of a regional meeting, the bishops called the attack “horrendous and callous” and said they had heard different accounts analyzing the mayhem.
“The bottom line is that the security situation in Nigeria remains at best, tenuous,” said the bishops from the Ibadan ecclesiastical province. “Those charged with securing human life and property in the nation must simply do more to protect the citizens.”
They advised Nigerians to collaborate with security agencies by giving information where necessary and obeying the rules of vigilance and personal security at all times.
Contributing to this story was Peter Ajayi Dada in Lagos, Nigeria.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: