Pope Francis called for an end to violence against Christians following deadly attacks in two African countries.
The pope led pilgrims in praying a Hail Mary for the victims of a deadly shooting on 6th August at St Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu, located in Nigeria’s southern state of Anambra. He also prayed for Christians killed following an attack at a mission in Gambo, Central African Republic.
“I hope that all forms of hatred and violence cease and that such shameful crimes are no longer committed in places of worship where the faithful gather to pray,” the pope told pilgrims on 9th August before concluding his weekly general audience.
The BBC and other news outlets reported on 7th August that at least 11 people were killed and as many as 18 others wounded as they attempted to flee the carnage in Ozubulu. While no suspects have been caught, authorities believe the target was a young businessman involved in a drug deal gone wrong.
The situation in the Central African Republic is more widespread, with violent clashes between the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels and the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia.
In a series of email messages sent to his brother and shown to Catholic News Service on 8th August, Spanish-born Bishop Juan-Jose Aguirre Munoz of Bangassou, Central African Republic, detailed the horrors that occurred at the Gambo mission, located about 45 miles away.
‘There are 50 dead in Gambo. The mission has been ransacked,’ he wrote.
The Spanish bishop, who has welcomed 2,000 Muslims at the cathedral in Bangassou to defend them from attacks by anti-Balaka militants, asked his brother to pray for the country.
Picture: A still image taken from a video shows people gathering outside St Philip Catholic Church following a deadly shooting by unknown gunmen on 6th August in Ozubulu, Nigeria. Pope Francis called for an end to violence against Christians following deadly attacks at St. Philip’s and at a mission in Gambo, Central African Republic. (CNS photo/Reuters TV).