Pope condemns church bombings in Nigeria, Philippines
Pope Benedict XVI decried recently the Christmas holiday attacks against Christians in several churches in Nigeria and a church in the Philippines, leaving 32 people dead and 83 wounded from both assaults.
The pope called both assaults “absurd violence,” and also condemned a suicide bomb attack outside a United Nations aid center in Pakistan, All Voices said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault which left 43 people dead on Christmas day, AFP reported.
Benedict, in his Angelus Address in the Vatican, also called out to Catholics in Iraq and China, who are undergoing extreme persecution, All Voices reported. He called for a peaceful means to resolve the world’s conflicts.
In the Philippines, a bomb was set off at a Christian church inside a military camp in Jolo island, southern Philippines during a Christmas mass, Digital Journal said. Several churches in Jos, Nigeria were also bombed.
The pope said, “It was with great sadness that I learnt about the attack on a Catholic church in the Philippines during the celebrations for Christmas and also against Christian churches in Nigeria,” according to the AFP.
The pope added, “The earth is once again stained with blood as we have seen in other parts of the world,” the AFP reported. The pope also expressed condolence for the victims.
In Nigeria, 32 people died and 74 were wounded in a series of bomb attacks in Jos, a known hotbed for terrorists, the AFP said. An Islamist sect that launched similar attacks in the area last year is being blamed for the violence.
In the Philippines, an improvised bomb was lobbed at the rooftop of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Asturias village in Jolo at about 7 a.m., leaving 11 injured including a nine-year-old girl, GMA News reported.
Rev. Romeo Villanueva, 72, was reading the gospel when the explosion occurred. An assisting priest was thrown off his feet during the blast and suffered injuries to his leg, GMA News said.
Police reports in Camp Crame, Metro Manila showed that authorities had information that churches, including Sacred Heart Chapel, were receiving bomb threats. Police had been guarding the church since Thursday, GMA News said.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that police had received a list of names of members of the Abu Sayyaf Group who were likely to implement the bombings.
Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong strongly condemned the act, calling it “un-Islamic,” and adding, “The perpetrators want to undermine the government’s initiative to achieve peace in the country,” the Digital Journal reported.