File Catholic bishops

…Traditional rulers, religious leaders urged to end reprisal killings

…Says revenge can’t bring back the dead

…Adds youths have time, chance to change society

By Luminous Jannamike

The Catholic Bishops of Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province have warned traditional rulers, religious leaders and youths in Southern Kaduna to stop reprisal killings in the area.

According to the Bishops, comprising those of Kaduna, Kano, Kontagora, Minna, Sokoto, and Zaria dioceses, which make up the Ecclesiastic Province, God is unhappy with the recent killings in Southern Kaduna and the efforts stakeholders have made to stop their escalation.

Consequently, they advised youths in the affected areas to sheathe their sword and embrace peace, saying violence had no utility value.

The Bishops spoke when they visited the chiefs of Kagoro, Takad and the Emir of Jama’a, in Southern Kaduna, weekend.

The clerics prayed and conveyed their message of peace, tolerance and hope to the people of the communities currently faced with daunting security challenges.

Speaking on behalf of the Bishops, Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Province,  Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso, said: “Like other Nigerians across the country, we have watched with deep sorrow and pain, the mindless slaughtering of hundreds of our innocent citizens in your different communities across our province and beyond.

‘Revenge can’t bring back the dead’

“We already know the stories of these tragedies very well. The greatest honour we can pay to those who have died is to see how we can rebuild our lives again.

“No amount of revenge, bitterness, calumny, hatred or name-calling can bring back those who have lost their lives in these senseless and unnecessary blood-lettings.

“We are pained by the shame that these evil deeds have brought to our country and our people. We are pained by the image that we have presented to the rest of the world.

“The Church is pained by the trauma that has been inflicted on our collective psyche. We are pained by the culture of death that has made life so cheap for the most vulnerable in our society. We are pained by the fact that we are losing our common humanity.

“Over the years, those who have totally lost the right to be called human beings, let alone people who can claim to believe in God have woken our people up to these orgies of mindless slaughter.

“Honestly, this is not who we are as Africans. This is not who we are as Nigerians. This is not who we are as people from Southern Kaduna.

“Over time, we have intermarried, loved, worked and celebrated our joys and shared our sorrows together across faith and tribe.

“We, your shepherds are calling on you to please pause, sheathe your swords and to please end the senseless killings, not tomorrow, but now.

God is not pleased with us’

“We call on you, men and women of various faiths to please know that God is not pleased with us.

“Again, we call on you to know that the rest of the country is equally saddened by these happenings. Every day, the question is, when will it all end? The answer is not blowing in the wind. It is in us.

“In response, we now call on you to please rally around one another. Our concern is not who is right or who is wrong.

“We are concerned with what is right and what is wrong. The killings are wrong. The killers are totally wrong.

“What is right is, protecting one another and standing together. There is no justification at all for us to lose all these innocent lives.

“None of these unfortunate citizens died fighting anyone. No one died for any cause that they know anything about. Muslim, Christian, or Traditionalist, none died for a crime they knew anything about. They have all died simply because they happen to be living in Southern Kaduna. No, we must turn back before it is too late.”

The Bishops prayed with the people and expressed their condolences and solidarity with them.

Appeal

Consequently, they made the following appeals to traditional rulers and religious leaders:

“We are aware of the efforts that you have made and continue to make, despite the constraints. We enjoin you to remain relentless in making your sacrifices for those under your care.

“Learn to embrace all, irrespective of class or status. God who sees our hearts will bless your efforts and bring healing to your communities.

“You, more than anyone else, feel the hurt and are daily witnessing the brokenness within your own communities.

“Please, we call on you, stand together. You are above politics and above ethnicity. Let solidarity remain your watchword.”

To the women, the Catholic Bishops said: “To our women who watch the homestead and are custodians of the hopes of our families, you are always the first in the line of sufferings that these afflictions bring.

“Often, you helplessly watch your own husbands and children being brutally gruesomely murdered. Some of your fellow women have lost their lives too.

“These tragedies have left many of you widows and left bitter memories. They have left you with children to look after.  Do not be afraid of the future.

“We assure you that we are close to you and appeal to you to remain faithful and committed to the future of forgiveness. Without you, there is no future for our communities and society at large.”

‘Youths have chance to change society’

To the youths, they said: “Our dear young people of Southern Kaduna, the future is in your hands and to a great extent, it is yours to build. You have the talent, time and opportunity to change our society.

“The nation we have today is a caricature of what you had hoped for and dreamt of. However, you have the enthusiasm and energy of your youth.

“Make sure you use it well. We appeal to you to look beyond local differences of religion, ethnicity or even your local communities. The future holds more for you than this.

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“The world of the future is a world in which you will be citizens of a global community without boundaries.

“There are no short cuts to greatness. You must seek education as it is the only viable tool for progress. Prepare yourselves to learn because your future depends on the lessons you learn today.

“As Africans, our elders hold a central place, our communities have cherished values which you must imbibe. Learn to respect them.

“We appeal to you to shun violence and, united as young people from Southern Kaduna across religion and community, embrace your differences and start building a future of your dreams.

“The place to start is here. The time to start is now. Violence has no utility value. It is in your interest that these killings end. Reject any form of violence and enlist in the peace brigade today.”

Bishops laud media, call for restraint

To the media, the Bishops said: “We highly commend you. However, we also wish to appeal to you to be more restrained in your reporting these tragedies.

“Use social media well. Very often, some reports add more pain and inflame emotions. We call on you to kindly respect the dead and the privacy of families.

“Try to present both sides of what are clearly very complicated stories of our people. Very often, what you say and what you don’t say can change a situation.”

On the essence of their visit to the affected communities, Archbishop   Ndagoso said: “This gesture has far-reaching positive implications to the collective quest for peace and mutual togetherness among the diverse populace in Southern Kaduna.

“What we need as a people now is confidence-building engagements that would aid the healing process and engender enduring unity and peaceful co-existence. This is the practical task of leaders worth their callings.”

Vanguard

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