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After Nigeria, Pope praying for those ‘blinded by hatred’

Gunmen with explosives stormed a Catholic church and opened fire in southwest Nigeria

© AFP

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 06/07/22

In message to local bishop, Francis notes the Nigerians' courage in living the Gospel.

Gunmen shot at people outside and inside St. Francis Catholic Church, in Owo, Nigeria, killing and injuring as many as 80 worshippers on Pentecost Sunday, including a number of children.

While the Pope already spoke about the massacre on Sunday, on Monday through his Secretary of State he sent assurance of his closeness to the local bishop, Jude Arogundade of Ondo.

The Pope’s message refers to the “unspeakable violence” and adds that while the Holy Father is praying for the dead and injured, he also prays “for the conversion of those blinded by hatred and violence so that they will choose instead the path of peace and righteousness.”

While it’s not yet certain who is responsible for the slaughter, many are concerned that it was perpetrated by Fulani herdsman, which represents an escalation in both the area and tactics of this group.

More on that below:

Here is the full papal message:

His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the horrific attack at Saint Francis Church in Owo, and he assures you and all those affected by this act of unspeakable violence of his spiritual closeness. In commending the souls of the dead to the loving mercy of Almighty God and imploring divine healing and consolation upon the injured and those who are grieving, His Holiness prays for the conversion of those blinded by hatred and violence so that they will choose instead the path of peace and righteousness. Upon you and the faithful of the diocese, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength as you continue to live the Gospel message with fidelity and courage.

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Pope Francis
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