Narcissus' Echo

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Do not confuse Christians with pacificists



Reaction of the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, The Most Revd Peter Akinola on recent events in Nigeria

21 Feb 2006

1. Having watched with sadness and dismay the recent development in  some  States in the Northern part of this Country where many Christian Churches and other property have been wantonly destroyed by some Islamic fundamentalists, the Christian Association of Nigeria is compelled to issue the following statements:

a) From all indications, it is very clear now that the sacrifices of the Christians in this country for peaceful co-existence with people of other faiths has been sadly misunderstood to be weakness.

b) We have for a long time now watched helplessly the killing, maiming and destruction of Christians and their property by Muslim fanatics and fundamentalists at the slightest or no provocation at all. We are not unaware of the fact that these religious extremists have the full backup and support of some influential Muslims who are yet to appreciate the value of peaceful co-existence.

c) That an incident in far away Denmark which does not claim to be representing Christianity could elicit such an unfortunate reaction here in Nigeria, leading to the destruction of Christian Churches, is not only embarrassing, but also disturbing and unfortunate.

d) It is no longer a hidden fact that a  long standing agenda to make this Nigeria an Islamic nation is being surreptitiously pursued. The willingness of Muslim Youth to descend with violence on the innocent Christians from time to time is from all intents and purposes a design to actualize their dream.

2.

a) It is sad to note that all acts of hostility meted against Christians by Muslims in the past have remained unaddressed with nobody paying compensations or the culprits brought to justice.

b) We do appreciate the fact that at this stage of our national development, peace is absolutely necessary for realizing our dreams and aspirations. It is in view of this that Christians in Nigeria agreed to participate in the forthcoming National Census as sacrifice for the peace and progress of this nation, in spite of our protest over the non-inclusion of Religion and Ethnicity as necessary demographic data.

c) May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation.  Nigeria belongs to all of us – Christians, Muslims and members of other faiths. No amount of intimidation can Change this time-honoured arrangement in this nation.  C.A.N. may no longer be able to contain our restive youths should this ugly trend continue.

3.

a) We now demand that further destruction of Christian Churches and property in this nation be permanently put to an end.

b) All levels of Government in this country should take adequate steps to protect the lives and property of Christians everywhere in this land as no further destructions will be tolerated or ignored.

c) The Federal Government and those States where Christian Churches have been destroyed are hereby urged to take urgent steps at rebuilding those structures and paying adequate compensation while assuring Christians of adequate protection in this country.  These governments should now show in practical terms that Nigeria belongs to all of us by going beyond mere promises of rebuilding destroyed Churches and property as in the past to actual reconstruction, which will help the victims to quickly put this unfortunate incident behind them. A stitch in time saves nine.


Signed

Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola (CON, DD.)
President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)

(Source)

The Most Reverend Peter J. Akinola is also the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria (Anglican Communion), as well as Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa.



Vatican to Muslims: practice what you preach

Feb 23, 12:54 PM (ET)
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - After backing calls by Muslims for respect for their religion in the Mohammad cartoons row, the Vatican is now urging Islamic countries to reciprocate by showing more tolerance toward their Christian minorities.

Roman Catholic leaders at first said Muslims were right to be outraged when Western newspapers reprinted Danish caricatures of the Prophet, including one with a bomb in his turban. Most Muslims consider any images of Mohammad to be blasphemous.

After criticizing both the cartoons and the violent protests in Muslim countries that followed, the Vatican this week linked the issue to its long-standing concern that the rights of other faiths are limited, sometimes severely, in Muslim countries.

Vatican prelates have been concerned by recent killings of two Catholic priests in Turkey and Nigeria. Turkish media linked the death there to the cartoons row. At least 146 Christians and Muslims have died in five days of religious riots in Nigeria.

"If we tell our people they have no right to offend, we have to tell the others they have no right to destroy us," Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's Secretary of State (prime minister), told journalists in Rome.

"We must always stress our demand for reciprocity in political contacts with authorities in Islamic countries and, even more, in cultural contacts," Foreign Minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo told the daily Corriere della Sera.

Reciprocity -- allowing Christian minorities the same rights as Muslims generally have in Western countries, such as building houses of worship or practicing religion freely -- is at the heart of Vatican diplomacy toward Muslim states.

Vatican diplomats argue that limits on Christians in some Islamic countries are far harsher than restrictions in the West that Muslims decry, such as France's ban on headscarves in state schools.

Saudi Arabia bans all public expression of any non-Muslim religion and sometimes arrests Christians even for worshipping privately. Pakistan allows churches to operate but its Islamic laws effectively deprive Christians of many rights.

Both countries are often criticized at the United Nations Human Rights Commission for violating religious freedoms.

"ENOUGH TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK"

Pope Benedict signaled his concern on Monday when he told the new Moroccan ambassador to the Vatican that peace can only be assured by "respect for the religious convictions and practices of others, in a reciprocal way in all societies."

He mentioned no countries by name. Morocco is tolerant of other religions, but like all Muslim countries frowns on conversion from Islam to another faith.

Iraqi Christians say they were well treated under Saddam Hussein's secular policies, but believers have been killed, churches burned and women forced to wear Muslim garb since Islamic groups gained sway after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Christians make up only a tiny fraction of the population in most Muslim countries. War and political pressure in recent decades have forced many to emigrate from Middle Eastern communities dating back to just after the time of Jesus.

As often happens at the Vatican, lower-level officials have been more outspoken than the Pope and his main aides.

"Enough now with this turning the other cheek! It's our duty to protect ourselves," Monsignor Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Vatican's supreme court, thundered in the daily La Stampa. Jesus told his followers to "turn the other cheek" when struck.

"The West has had relations with the Arab countries for half a century, mostly for oil, and has not been able to get the slightest concession on human rights," he said.

Bishop Rino Fisichella, head of one of the Roman universities that train young priests from around the world, told Corriere della Sera the Vatican should speak out more.

"Let's drop this diplomatic silence," said the rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. "We should put pressure on international organizations to make the societies and states in majority Muslim countries face up to their responsibilities."

(Source)


Something to think about.

If this unwarranted persecution continues, a great number of people could very well receive their wish of 72 virgins in heaven sooner than they think...

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