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Church in US calls for return of kidnapped Nigerian girls

Protester

Bring them home: A protester holds a sign during a May 8 march in Cape Town, South Africa, in support of the girls kidnapped in Nigeria. The Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the abduction of 276 schoolgirls during a raid in the remote village of Chibok in April.
Photo: CNS/Sumaya Hisham, Reuters

AN official from the United States episcopal conference called on the National Security Advisor to work with both Christian and Muslim faith-based groups in bringing a stop to the extremism espoused by groups such as Nigeria’s Boko Haram.

The May 9 letter from Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, came in response to the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram.

The United States should assist the Nigerian government to promote national security and social development and should partner with civil society, especially faith-based institutions, to build social cohesion and stop violence, said the chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace in a letter to National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

“The Church in Nigeria has called for continuous dialogue among political, military and religious leaders to end the violence, complemented by effective police and military action that brings perpetrators of violence to justice while respecting human and civil rights,” Bishop Pates wrote. Referring to both Christian and Muslim faith-based institutions, he said, “Their efforts will be crucial in counteracting the extremist religious views espoused by Boko Haram.”

Bishop Pates said that he has also written to Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, to express the US bishops’ solidarity.

He said he was encouraged by the efforts of the US government to help Nigeria bring the perpetrators to justice.

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, declared the kidnapping in Nigeria of a large number of schoolgirls by Boko Haram terrorists is yet another of the “horrible forms of violence long typical of this group”.

Zenit

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