VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis expressed his solidarity and closeness with Catholics in Nigeria after gunmen stormed a church and reportedly killed at least 50 people during a Pentecost Mass.
“While the details of the incident are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and the country, painfully stricken in a moment of celebration, and entrusts both to the Lord, so that he may send his Spirit to comfort them,” said Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, in a statement June 5.
According to the Reuters news agency, gunmen fired at people inside and outside St. Francis Xavier Church in Owo, located in the southwestern state of Ondo. No group had claimed responsibility for the attack as of June 6.
In addition to those who were killed, dozens more were injured and rushed to nearby hospitals.
Father Augustine Ikwu, communications director for the Diocese of Ondo, said the attack “has left the community devastated.”
He also said June 5 that “all the priests in the parish are safe and none were kidnapped” as was reported on several social media sites.
“Let us continue to pray for them and the good people of Owo and the state at large,” Father Ikwu said. “We turn to God to console the families of those whose lives were lost in this distressing incident, and we pray for the departed souls to rest in peace.”
In a series of tweets posted shortly after the attack, Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo state, said, “The vile and satanic attack” was “a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of (Owo) who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.”
“I want to express my condolences to those who lost their dear ones to this gruesome murder. This is a great massacre,” Akeredolu tweeted. “Our people in Ondo state will not let down their guard. This will not happen again. I have urged the heads of security agencies to take all necessary steps.”
Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103