Abuja, Nigeria, Nov 1, 2012 / 01:42 am (CNA).- Following the deadly suicide bombing on a Catholic Church in north Nigeria, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria has said local Catholics are showing “apprehension and consternation” at the apparent government failure to provide security and capture the perpetrators.
“We as pastors have reached a state of near desperation – seeing children, women and men bombed out of existence,” Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria told Aid to the Church in Need on Oct. 31.
“Attacks continue to be visited on our people with very little sign that the concerned political and security officials are able to arrest the situation.”
On Oct. 28 a suicide bomber attacked St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Kaduna, killing himself and four others. The attack wounded 134, including the parish priest. Of the wounded parishioners, 75 suffered critical injuries.
The attacker was denied entrance at the church gate, but he then reversed his explosives-filled car and rammed it into the church’s perimeter wall.
“This Sunday attack was totally unexpected. The degree of barbarism that comes with each attack is baffling,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
“The suicide bomber came as a respectable person, well dressed and in a big car ready to kill and he did kill and injure many.”
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to redouble efforts to combat terrorism, while the President of the Nigerian Assembly, a Muslim, has condemned the attack.
There have been some reports of Christian reprisals.
However, the clergy are trying to prevent further violence. Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso-Ndagoso of Kaduna held a press conference immediately after the attack asking that youth not retaliate.
“Our message to our people has been consistent: no aggression and no retaliation. This is a test of our Christian faith; a time to be Christ-like,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
He warned that Christians may not be able to endure further violence without retaliating.
The archbishop asked for prayers for an end to violence.
“We pray a lot, hoping the evil doers will have a change of heart,” he said.
Many believe that Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group opposed to Western education, is responsible for the attack. The group seeks to overthrow the government and impose Shariah law throughout the country. It has claimed responsibility for many attacks on Christians.
Northern Nigeria is primarily Muslim, while the south is predominantly Christian and traditional animist. The Archdiocese of Kaduna’s 2011 population was only 9.2 percent Catholic.