(Vatican Radio) In the aftermath of Sunday’s deadly attack on a college in north-eastern
Nigeria, the Nigerian government is facing questions about the lack of protection
provided to students in one of the country’s most dangerous provinces.
A state of emergency was declared in several north-eastern provinces earlier this year, in the wake of increased violence from Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram. In the latest attack, militants stormed an unprotected agricultural college around 1am, killing students as they slept or fled.
Vatican Radio spoke to Cardinal John Onaiyekan, who heads the diocese of Abuja in central Nigeria, and is in Rome for a three-day interfaith conference, run by the St Egidio community, entitled “The courage of hope: religions and cultures in dialogue”.
He spoke to us about his hopes for an end to the Boko Haram attacks, and about the importance of supporting religious leaders across the world as they work towards peace.
Listen to the full interview:
“As far as dialogue among religions is concerned, in view of peace, I want to say two things.
The first is that there has been a poor historical record of relations between Christians and Muslims. Our religions have been used in the past centuries for wars. It is necessary to say it loud and clear: we are now in a new era. Vatican II already moved in this direction. We thank God for Vatican II, but unfortunately it was a Catholic Council, the Muslims were not there. Those Muslims who agree with the Pope should not simply agree with the Pope for having said a nice thing. They should actually go out themselves and say it loud and clear to those whom they lead, because this is where we should be going. We know too that if Christians and Muslims agreed on this, world peace would be easier to achieve.
There is a second point that we need to make: we have seen the efforts of humanity to install peace in the world, but something is missing – namely, a spiritual dimension. Religious leaders have to come in at the highest level of world peace making. […] If the international community gave a little bit of support to encourage religious leaders all over the world, wherever there are crises, to meet the belligerents, I think a lot of progress would be made.”