Leader of embattled Catholics sees militants as "demonic"
The Nigerian bishop who is on the front lines with his people in the face of the Islamist terror organization Boko Haram minces no words when it comes to the evil that Christians face.
For one thing, he calls it "demonic."
In 2009, “we witnessed the emergence of Boko Haram, a demonic cult, which arose to ban Western education,” said Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri, Nigeria, at a religious freedom conference in Spain last weekend.
But that is no cause for despair. The bishop claims that Jesus Christ appeared to him in a vision, giving him the answer to the problem: the rosary.
“Towards the end of last year I was in my chapel before the Blessed Sacrament… praying the rosary, and then suddenly the Lord appeared,” Bishop Dashe told Catholic News Agency April 18. He said Jesus didn’t say anything at first, but extended a sword toward him, and he in turn reached out for it.
“As soon as I received the sword, it turned into a rosary,” the bishop said, adding that Jesus then told him three times: “Boko Haram is gone.”
“I didn’t need any prophet to give me the explanation,” he said. “It was clear that with the rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram.”
The bishop said he didn’t want to tell anyone, but “felt that the Holy Spirit was pushing him to do so.”
The Diocese of Maiduguri is in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State. The violence wreaked by Boko Haram has led to a drop in the Catholic population there from around 125,000 in 2009 to about 50,000 to 60,000, the bishop said.
Bishop Doeme has been spreading another Christian message recently as well: forgiveness.
“It is up to God and not us to avenge and take retribution,” he has said in parishes he visited during Easter week. According to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Doeme told the faithful that in the end, revenge and retribution would only lead to a vicious cycle of violence and war, and that the fundamental values of the Christian faith are to love our enemies and persecutors. Healing can only begin when the faithful forgive the past and look to the future with great hope and faith.
There is a lot of healing that must take place. More than 6,000 have died in Boko Haram-led violence since 2009, according to Human Rights Watch. The militants have killed 1,000 people across Nigeria in the first three months of 2015 alone. Last month, the group pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State group.