(Vatican Radio) The 2012 Pax Christi International Peace Award was presented on Wednesday
to Nigerian Archbishop John Onaiyekan for his tireless efforts in promoting understanding
and dialogue in Africa between people of different faiths. Onaiyekan, who has been
archbishop of Abuja since 1994, was named last week as one of six Catholic leaders
who will be created cardinal in a forthcoming consistory here in the Vatican on November
24th. The Co-Presidents of Pax Christi International Marie Dennis, from
the U.S and Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa, commended Archbishop
Onaiyekan for the important role he has played in building bridges between Christians
and Muslims in Nigeria and beyond. The award ceremony took place at the Pax Christi
International headquarters in Brussels just days after the latest suicide bomb attack
in northern Nigeria killed at least 8 people and injured hundreds more. The attack
on a Catholic Church during Mass on Sunday was similar to others claimed by the radical
Islamic group Boko Haram. Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen talked to Archbishop
Onaiyekan about the difficulties of promoting dialogue while churches continue to
be the target of such attacks…..
attacked but also markets attacked, Christians killed but also Muslims killed and
there is a devaluation of human life which is far more serious than the fact that
we are attacked as Christians.....
What is most terrible for us is to hear
them say they are doing this in the name of God - for us that is impossible to understand,
and most Nigerian Muslims too say, no, this is not Islam....
We have common
needs of poverty and disease - mosquitos do not distinguish between Christians and
Muslims, HIV-AIDS affects both together - and we find that when religious leaders
put aside this attitude of 'us against them,' there's plenty of room for working together"