We Forgive Boko Haram for Attacking Us--Catholic Bishop in Nigeria

This bishop in Nigeria, Africa, says that there is no point in celebrating Christmas with rancor, malice, and revenge. There is nothing we can do to our enemies but forgive them. We must remember that Christ faced a similar persecution, humiliation, and death at the hands of men, but even at that he forgave them, this bishop said. Boko Haram is a Moslem group in Nigeria that has attacked Christians and blown up churches.
see www.informationnigeria.org/2012/12/we-forgive-boko-haram-for-attacking-us-catholic-bishop.html

Axios!

Amazing show of forgiveness

Yes, forgiveness is very nice and surely the right thing to do, but the question is, should Catholics remain as sheep to the slaughter, or do they have the right to protect themselves? I think they do and should protect themselves in a meaningful manner .I’m sorry, but I would like to read a story someday when parishioners in Nigeria fight back instead of doing nothing and send a message to those evildoers that their killing days are over. Like the Nazi’s, the radical Muslims will not stop their killing sprees unilaterally and they must be confronted and defeated by the good people of the world. Self defense is a right that every human posesses, even Catholics.

The problem is, if we use self defense then the world will see us as terrorists. Or at least that’s what I think will happen. The world is very judgmental.

I’m sure the liberal mainstream media will still find a way to spin the story against the Catholic Church.

While self-defense is certainly justified in these circumstances, becoming a martyr for our faith is much more righteous and rewarding.

And continue to do nothing? So, if someone came into your church, grabbed your little girl and said they were going to kill her because she is Catholic, you would stand by and allow her martyrdom?

This. We can forgive and also bring them to justice. In Nigeria the rules of Catholic just war apply.

I sense a misunderstanding of what the bishop meant when he said that he forgives Boko Haram. This argument you are all engaged in puts forward a false dichotomy between forgiveness and caution. This is unnecessary. It is not an either/or proposition. You can practice both.

The kind bishop has forgiven them, meaning he harbours no resentment against them for what they do. He knows that they are brainwashed zealots, caring only to further their evil cause without care for the lives of their fellow humans, and he does not blame them, “for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

But he is not trying to be an amnesiac. While he forgives, he also takes action. He understands the danger that Boko Haram and their Islamist agenda poses to humanity and his flock, and takes the necessary steps to stop it. In fact, Most Reverend Matthew Ndagaso has been doing this for a very long time. He has been actively trying to protect his flock, organising the parishes and sharing information with them as expeditiously as possible. He also been strongly pressuring the government to take action against Boko Haram and neutralise this murderous group.

The good bishop is not blind. He is pragmatic, but he is also Christ-like in his magnanimosity. The accusations that he is trying to ignore the threat are themselves born of ignorance and a profound lack of charity. I would like to see you better him in leading his flock in an environment as hostile and anti-Christian as this. The bishop has a very difficult job to do, and even his own life is threatened, but he does not falter in his mission to bring the Gospel to the good people of Nigeria. He is truly worthy!

Let us pray for the well-being of all those who have been killed and affected by Boko Haram, as well as the continued strength and faith of the Catholics of Nigeria. :gopray2:

The two are different topics, as you say. That is why I was surprised that the bishops words of Christian charity drew such a call to violence. That was **not **the intent of the message from the bishop.

The killings of Christians have continued since the bishop spoke.

edition.cnn.com/2012/12/30/world/africa/nigeria-violence/index.html

22 killed in three attacks in Nigeria

December 31, 2012
At least 22 people have been killed in three separate attacks in northeastern Nigeria since Friday, including 15 Christians shot Sunday inside a church, according to officials.

I understand that.

He also been strongly pressuring the government to take action against Boko Haram and neutralise this murderous group.

Meanwhile the Christians should form militias (if they haven’t already) and post guards at the churches, as there is obviously no rule of law. This is an effective strategy as we have seen in Lebanon in the 1980’s. It is also important that the militias are authorized by the bishops so as to prevent excesses. Violence is morally neutral and the Church has always approved of it in defense of the common good.

I agree with the sentiment in this thread that Christians should be ready for martyrdom, but it is not a responsible first choice when you have a family to provide for.

I don’t disapprove of your proposal, but just a minor point of note:

The Church does actually decry violence as evil, but she also approves it in cases of absolute necessity, many instances of which have been seen in history. That is why she demands her clergy not to bear arms (and not simply “we are neutral over whether the clergy carries weapons”), and churches to be free from weapons (and not simply “we are neutral over whether there are weapons being carried into church”). This is a consistent tradition of the Church, even in those bloodthirsty mediaeval times.

Since you brought up the theory of Just War, which is a favourite topic of mine, I feel compelled to just clarify a common misconception over what Just War means. It is a long topic in itself, but I will just pare it down to the parts that are relevant here. The theory of Just War aims to give reason and a set of criteria around which violence may be used in a justified manner. It establishes that violence is by default evil unless it is used in a manner that fulfills the strict criteria of a Just War, at which point it is justified (but not virtuous). In some circumstances, it may sometimes be the best choice (as opposed to blind pacifism), but it still does not make an established Just War pure. It also does not mean that violence is only a tool. Just because violence can be justified in certain circumstances does not mean it is morally neutral. It is still an terrible act, and that is why it must be restrained and controlled with the criteria of the Just War.

I hope this helps. Let us continue to pray for the safety of the Catholics of Nigeria. :slight_smile:

I think I’ve read that in the U.S. people are carrying concealed weapons into churches. Am I wrong? Maybe it wasn’t Catholic churches. (I don’t really remember). Is that not allowed then?

Yes you are correct. However, that is a somewhat separate issue.

Traditionally, weapons were not allowed into churches because the Church wanted the church to be a place of peace, with no overt weapons to intimidate others, or concealed weapons that have the potential to cause death in a place of life. Every individual had to make their own account to God for violating the peace of the church by carrying in their own weapon. Concessions were made for guards safeguarding the peace of the church (such as the Swiss Guards) or the safety of the royalty. It was feasible because historically, weapons were ‘primitive’ enough to be avoided. It was also said that even criminals feared God in their own way, and churches still had that aura of holiness that few wished to violate.

However, times are now much different. Guns are allowed in churches now for the same reason that weapons are generally allowed in the US (self-defence). It is permitted on the principle of pragmatism, on the grounds that modern criminals do not care about whether churches are holy places or not. Still, whether the priest permits it still varies from parish to parish.

You are correct in making a distinction. Generally, you are still more likely to find that Catholic (or Orthodox) priests would prohibit you from carrying your gun than a Protestant church. The church as a place of peace is a tradition that is still cherished in the traditional churches.

As a side note, it is interesting that even during the American Civil War, priests would prohibit soldiers of both sides from bringing their guns into the church. They were sometimes used as a neutral ground for opposing sides to meet.

If any Americans have more to contribute, please do. :slight_smile:

Thanks,** Filii Dei. ** I don’t want to divert the thread to a discussion about the U.S., but just had to ask.
I wonder if anywhere else Christians are defending themselves with arms?
Iraq? Lebanon? Egypt? What to do when your government cannot or will not defend you?

Informal militias do exist, especially in Iraq and Egypt. I don’t know what their standing is with the Church, because that is essentially a matter of obedience with their bishop, and I do not know if the bishop approves of them.

There are many ways of approaching the question. The doctrine of Just War demands that certain criteria must be met before taking violent action. These apply even if the theatre of battle is nothing larger than their neighbourhood.

As taken from Paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Chuch.

The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

[LIST]
*]the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and- certain;
*]all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or - ineffective;
*]there must be serious prospects of success;
*]the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
[/LIST]

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine.

These are very vague criteria, but they are worded vaguely because how they are measured varies from situation to situation. Additionally, the same canon also stipulates:

The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

Conventionally, this would be the government, however, in the situation that the government is incompetent or unwilling, the bishop can conceivably make the same call in an emergency. If he cannot be consulted in time, then in such church-centred communities it could fall to the parish priest, or even to the laity. The basic idea is that somebody in authority must assess the situation and decide accordingly. :slight_smile:

Filii Dei, what would be the Catholic moral view on foreigners financially supporting or even joining such militias? The first Crusades were justified by the Church as wars for the liberation of Christians (and as penitential exercises). A more modern example is Irish-American Catholics giving their financial support to the IRA in the first half of the 20th century. And the thousands of Catholic foreigners who joined the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. Was their support ever condemned by the Church?

Other possible moral problems are how are Christian militias going to procure their weapons. What if the only possible way is by procuring them from immoral sources? Would the end in such a scenario justify the means?

I hope this is true.

allafrica.com/stories/201301020168.html

Nigeria: Most Terror Suspects Arrested - Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan announced yesterday that most members of terror groups had been arrested by security forces in the country, just as he said that, with more prayers, the country would overcome the violent crimes confronting the country - terrorism, kidnapping and armed robbery.
…]
According to him, “Most of the terror suspects have been arrested. Most people will not know what the security agencies have been doing. The people who bombed police headquarters, United Nations House and St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla have been arrested.”

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