Gunmen Kill Another Priest In Niger State

 

Some unknown gunmen have killed another Catholic priest, Father John Gbakaan in Niger State.

Prior to his death, the priest was the Dean of the newly created Lapai Deanery and was also in charge of St. Anthony’s Parish Gulu in Lapai local government area of the state.

A close colleague of the deceased and priest in charge of St. Theresa Catholic Parish Madala, Father John Jatau confirmed this to Channels Television via telephone conversation on Sunday.

He said Father Gbakaan alongside his brother and another priest Thursday travelled to Makurdi in Benue state where he went to see his mother.

It was on his way back, that he and his brother were attacked by gunmen along Lambata-Lapai road. The incident took place at about 9 pm after Father Gbakaan had dropped Father Jatua at Suleja.

The attackers were said to have descended on the priest with machetes, hacking his body beyond recognition.

Father Jatau said the body of the priest was found the following day, Saturday, tied to a tree in a bush, after some vigilante members in the area raised alarm.

READ ALSO: Kano: School Resumption Dates Remain Intact – Commissioner

The Toyota Venza vehicle in which the priest was traveling was also found in the bush.

Meanwhile, the brother of the deceased was abducted and yet to be found.

According to Father Jatau, the gunmen on Saturday put a call to the Catholic Diocese in Minna, demanding for the sum of Thirty Million Naira, but later in the course of negotiation dropped the ransom to Five Million Naira.

As at the time of filing this report, negotiations were said to be ongoing, while the body of the slain priest has been deposited at the IBB Specialist Hospital mortuary in Minna.

Efforts to get the side of the police on the matter proved abortive as neither Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Abiodun Wasiu nor the Commissioner could be reached.

The Bishop of the Minna Catholic Community, His Lordship, Bishop Martin Ozuokwu could also not be reached on phone.

The killing of Father Gbakaan brings to two the number of Christian clerics killed in recent times since the renewed banditry attacks in Niger State.

In December 2020, a Christian clergy with the Evangelical Church of West Africa was killed at Chukuba village in Shiroro local government area by gunmen who invaded his farm while he was harvesting his produce.

Coptic Pope Defrocks US-Linked Priest Accused Of Paedophilia

The head of Egypt’s Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral east of Cairo on January 6, 2018 (AFP Photo/KHALED DESOUKI)
The head of Egypt’s Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral east of Cairo on January 6, 2018 (AFP Photo/KHALED DESOUKI)

 

 

Coptic Pope Tawadros II on Saturday urged Washington to no longer recognise a priest accused of paedophilia who had reportedly worked in the US as a member of his church.

“We notify all the civic authorities in Egypt and in the United States… to revoke any recognition of Yousef Aziz Khalil as a priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church,” the pope wrote in a statement posted on Facebook, without specifying Khalil’s current location.

The rare move comes amid a resurgence of the #MeToo movement in Egypt after a sex scandal implicating a member of the country’s wealthy elite.

Social media in the country and in the Egyptian diaspora have been flooded with thousands of testimonies of sexual assault.

Among them are Coptic Egyptians living in the United States who have accused Khalil, whose priestly name is Reweiss Aziz Khalil, of paedophilia and denounced the church for being slow to act.

The church had defrocked Khalil in 2014 for “repeated infringements that are unacceptable to the priesthood and its ministry”, the Coptic pope said in his statement, without elaborating.

Khalil, “is hereby laicised and must return to his former pre-ordination name”, the statement said.

“He is hereby stripped of his priestly rank.”

The largest Christian minority in the Middle East, Copts make up between 10 and 15 percent of Egypt’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population of over 100 million.

 

-AFP

Nigerian Priest Gives Up German Parish After Death Threats

A Lebanese priest of the Greek Orthodox Saint George church (L) holds a service marking Holy Friday for Orthodox Christians, without congregation due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in the northern coastal city of Batroun, on April 17, 2020. Ibrahim CHALHOUB / AFP
PHOTO USED TO ILLUSTRATE STORY: A Lebanese priest of the Greek Orthodox Saint George church (L) holds a service marking Holy Friday for Orthodox Christians, without congregation due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in the northern coastal city of Batroun, on April 17, 2020.
Ibrahim CHALHOUB / AFP

 

A Nigerian Roman Catholic priest has been forced to give up his parish in Germany after a series of racist acts including death threats. 

Patrick Asomugha will step down from his parish in Queidersbach in the west of the country, on  Monday after “massive” intimidation against him, said Bishop Andreas Sturm, of the diocese of Speyer, in a statement released on Friday.

The hostility towards Asomugha began in mid-2019.

The presbytery in Queidersbach, a town of some 3,000 inhabitants, suffered significant property damage after two break-ins, and the tyres on the priest’s car were slashed.

In March, unknown persons placed a death threat on the door of his garage.

“Under these circumstances, I can no longer fulfil my duties as a priest in Queidersbach,” said Asomugha, who had been head of the parish of Saint Francis of Assisi since August 2017.

The source of the threats has not been identified, leaving the church with little option.

“It would be irresponsible to continue exposing Father Asomugha to the threat,” said the diocese.

The local Catholic youth organisation expressed their “deep shame” and said it was “horrified to see that because of their skin color, origin or other characteristics, people can no longer exercise their professional activity or have to leave their employment”.

The pastor will remain within the diocese of Speyer but will transfer to another mission.

In 2016, a German-Congolese Catholic priest left his Bavarian parish to protest against the racist attacks against him, also punctuated by death threats, due to his support for the reception of foreign refugees.

Germany is undergoing an upsurge in anti-migrant feeling, linked with the rise of the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party which is now the main opposition force in the Bundestag with 89 elected officials.

In February, 12 men were arrested across Germany on suspicion of planning attacks on mosques and a week later a racist gunman killed nine people in a lone attack in Hanau.

Two people died in an attack on a synagogue in the city of Halle last October and a pro-migrant politician was murdered at his home in June 2019.

 

AFP

Catholic School Priest Bans ‘Harry Potter’ Books On Exorcist Advice

 

Exorcists advised a Nashville school priest to ban the Harry Potter books, over fears the popular children’s novels could be used to summon spirits.

Reverend Dan Reehil contacted exorcists in Rome and the US, who recommended removing the fantasy novels from St. Edward Catholic School’s library in Tennessee.

Launched in 1997, the series of books spins an epic tale of good and evil focused on the adventures of the eponymous bespectacled young wizard as he struggles against the dark wizard Lord Voldemort.

“The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text,” the reverend said in an email obtained by local media.

Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, told the newspaper The Tennessean that Reehil had “canonical authority to make such decisions.”

Although the school used to stock the books, it will not offer them to pupils in its newly opened library, Hammel said.

A global success, the Potter series by British author J.K. Rowling has been repeatedly banned from schools in the US and Britain, mostly for allegedly promoting satanic values or black magic.

Catholic Priest Killed In Taraba Laid To Rest

Scores of worshipers attend the funeral of David Tanko in Taraba State on September 3, 2019.

 

 

A funeral mass has been held by the Catholic Church in Taraba State in honour of Reverend Father David Tanko, a priest who was killed recently by gunmen in Kpankufu village in Takum Local Government Area of the state.

Scores of Christians gathered at the Our Lady of Queen of Peace Cathedral in Jalingo, the state capital on Tuesday to pay their last respect to the late priest of St. Peter’s Parish Kurfa Amadu.

The church condemned the killing, saying they hope the murder of the priest would be the sacrifice that would bring an end to the lingering Jukun-Tiv crisis in Taraba.

They also called on the government to up to its responsibility of protecting the lives and property of the citizens.

READ ALSO: Ishaku, Ortom, Others To Meet Over Tiv-Jukun Crisis

The Catholic Bishop of Jalingo Diocese, Most Reverend Father Charles Hammawa, said it was not easy to accept the circumstances that led to his death.

He, however, stated that the church would be comforted by the promise of resurrection for all who died in Jesus Christ.

The bishop also asked the government to use the institutional and constitutional power at its disposal to end the crisis between the Jukun and Tiv people in the state.

On his part, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Taraba, Isaiah Jirapye, promised that the association would continue to mediate for peace in the crisis.

The younger brother of the deceased, Jerry Yakubu, and one of his relatives, Ishaya Andokari, said the family has decided not to seek justice in any way, saying they have left the matter in God’s hands.

The late priest was who was killed on Wednesday last week at Kpankufu Village en route his parish and his body was burnt along with his vehicle.

Poland Cracks Down On Child Sex Abuse As Priest Film Goes Viral

 

Poland’s right-wing government on Tuesday unveiled plans to crack down on paedophiles by raising prison sentences to a maximum 30 years as a ground-breaking documentary on paedophilia among Polish priests went viral in the Catholic country.

The proposed changes by the Law and Justice (PiS) government, which is closely allied with Poland’s powerful Roman Catholic church, come just two weeks ahead of a tight race in elections to the European Parliament.

“Paedophilia has been treated too lightly by our judicial system,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said after presenting the new proposals.

Commanding a majority in parliament, the PiS wants to raise maximum jail sentences for child sex abuse from 12 to 30 years and increase the age of consent from 15 to 16.

PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, regarded as Poland’s de facto powerbroker, first suggested longer prison terms for paedophiles on Sunday as the documentary attracted attention.

“Tell No One”, by independent Polish journalist Tomasz Sekielski has sent shock waves through the devout country and been viewed 12.5 million times since it was posted Saturday on YouTube.

The two-hour film includes compelling hidden camera footage of victims who are now adults confronting elderly priests about the abuse they suffered decades ago.

Several of the priests admit to the abuse and apologise for it, sometimes hinting at monetary compensation.

The film also details how priests who were accused or even convicted of child sex abuse were transferred to other parishes and able to continue their duties and work with children.

Top Polish clerics rejected Sekielski’s requests to be interviewed for the documentary.

Polish Primate Wojciech Polak apologised on Saturday “for every wound inflicted by the Church’s people” and vowed to do everything he could to help victims.

The church admitted in March that nearly 400 clergy had sexually abused children and minors over the last three decades, reflecting findings published a month earlier by a charity.

The documentary concludes that Polish-born pope and Saint John Paul II turned a blind eye to sex abuse when the Warsaw’s communist regime was working to undermine the church, then Poland’s only independent institution.

Pope Francis last week passed a landmark new measure to oblige those who know about sex abuse to report it to superiors, which could bring many new cases to light.

AFP

Catholic Priest Stabbed During Mass At Canada’s Biggest Church

Canada’s flag

 

A priest was stabbed during a live-streamed morning mass Friday at Canada’s biggest church, Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, police said.

The suspect was arrested at the Roman Catholic basilica shortly after the attack in front of 50 people and a television audience around 8:40 am (1240 GMT), while priest Claude Grou was taken to the hospital.

Police told AFP that Grou was “slightly wounded in the upper body” when, according to witnesses cited by authorities, “the suspect suddenly ran up to the priest and attacked him with a knife” while he was officiating the mass.

READ ALSO: China Probes Factory Blast As Death Toll Hits 47

The suspect was due to be interrogated shortly, while the scene has been cordoned off.

Church spokeswoman Celine Barbeau said Grou, the church’s rector, “was conscious when he left. We are hopeful he will pull through.”

Video of the attack rebroadcast by CTV showed the assailant — a tall man in jeans, a parka and a white baseball cap — chase the priest around the altar and stab him.

Grou falls to the ground, but quickly gets back up and backs away as security officers surround the suspect and detain him until police arrive.

A witness, Adele Plamondon, told public broadcaster Radio-Canada the priest was about to start reading the gospel, when “this man drew a knife and ran up to stab him.”

The suspect “did not shout, didn’t say anything” during the assault, but appeared “very determined,” Plamondon said.

AFP

Priest, Customs Officers Killed In Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso on the map.

 

A Spanish priest and four customs officers were killed in separate attacks by suspected jihadists in Burkina Faso, which is struggling with a radical Islamist insurgency, local sources said.

“The Spanish Salesian Antonio Cesar Fernandez was assassinated during a jihadist attack between Togo and Burkina Faso,” around 3:00 pm local time on Friday,” the Salesians of Don Bosco order said in a statement posted Friday on Twitter.

Fernandez and two others were returning from a meeting in the Togolese capital Lome when they “were attacked by gunmen after crossing the border between Togo and Burkina Faso”, the head of the order, Jose Elegbede, said in a statement.

“After searching the car, they pulled Cesar from the group and the men shot him,” Elegbede added.

The group’s chauffeur, Fabrice Aziawo, said the gunmen captured them at a checkpoint.

“Armed men took us into the forest, Cesar and me. I heard shots. They told me to turn around and I saw Cesar lying on the ground.”

Cesar Fernandez, 72, had been working in Africa since 1982, said his order, the Salesians of don Bosco, in a statement on Twitter.

In a separate attack, gunmen targeted customs officers who set up a mobile post in Nohao, near the border with Togo on Friday evening, killing four of them, a security source told AFP.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered his condolences to the family and colleagues of the priest.

“I am absolutely revolted by this attack and my respect to those… who risk their lives to work in conflict zones,” he added on Twitter.

A local security source said the attack was carried out by “a group of around 20 gunmen who then fled into a wooded zone”.

More than 300 people have been killed in the country in four years of jihadist attacks, according to an AFP count.

AFP

Pope Says Priest Celibacy Not ‘Optional’

Pope Francis/ AFP

 

Pope Francis said Monday celibacy for priests was a “gift to the Church” and not “optional”, nixing the prospect of married men being ordained.

“Personally I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church,” the pope told journalists aboard his plane returning to the Vatican from Panama.

“Secondly, I don’t think optional celibacy should be allowed. No,” he said.

The pope nevertheless conceded “some possibilities for far-flung places”, such as Pacific islands or the Amazon where “there is a pastoral necessity”.

“This is something being discussed by theologians, it’s not my decision,” he said.

The Argentine pontiff has repeatedly said there is no doctrinal prohibition on married men becoming priests, and therefore the discipline could be changed.

READ ALSO: Pope Francis Calls For Reconciliation Among Catholics In China

Saint Peter, the church’s first pope, had a mother-in-law, according to the bible.

Celibacy was imposed in the 11th century, possibly partly to prevent descendants of priests inheriting church property.

Some within the church believe it is time to join many eastern rite Catholic Churches in permitting married men to take the cloth. Married Anglican priests keen to convert to Catholicism have already been welcomed over.

The Vatican’s number two, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, suggested in an interview last year that the church could “gradually look in depth” at the issue, while ruling out any “drastic change”.

Some 60,000 priests have given up their vocation over the past few decades, often to marry.

Pope Paul VI’s refusal to open the door to the use of the pill in the Swinging Sixties saw many priests abandon their calling.

Pope Francis suggested in 2017 that the church “reflect” on the question of ordaining “viri probati”, married men of proven virtue, particularly in far-flung places where priests are thin on the ground.

The idea is likely to be on the table at a synod this year dedicated to the Amazon, an immense territory where clergy are scarce.

Sensing a possible shift in attitude, some 300 married, former priests in Italy sent a letter to Francis last year offering to take up the cloth once more should he need them.

Kenyan Priest Killed In Cameroon’s Anglophone Region

File Photo

A Kenyan priest was killed in francophone Cameroon’s volatile English-speaking Southwest region where violence has surged after separatists declared an independent state, church sources told AFP on Thursday. 

“A Kenyan priest was shot dead in Kembong yesterday,” one source said.

“There was no fighting, he was in the… church in Kembong when he was killed,” another official said in Buea, capital of the Southwest.

The church suggested the priest may have been killed by the military.

“There are no ‘Amba Boys’ in Kembong at this moment but the Cameroonian army is there,” one source said, referring to armed separatists fighting for an independent state called Ambazonia.

AFP could not independently verify the claim.

The priest was working with people displaced by the conflict.

An American Catholic missionary was killed at the beginning of November in the Northeast region. The government blamed separatists but Washington said he died in cross-fire.

The UN recently warned of worsening violence in Cameroon. The conflict has displaced more than 437,000 people, according to UN data released in October.

AFP

Gunmen Kidnap Catholic Priest For Second Time In Delta

Suspected Pirates Shoot Pregnant Woman In Bayelsa
File photo

 

A Catholic priest of the Sacred Heart Parish, Obomkpa in Delta State, Reverend Andrew Anah, has been kidnapped.

The State Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Aniamaka, confirmed the abduction to Channels Television on Thursday, stating that this is the second time the same priest will be abducted.

Mr Anah was kidnapped in 2017 but was later released after an undisclosed sum was allegedly paid to the abductors.

While the circumstances surrounding the fresh kidnap are still unclear, Channels Television gathered that some residents may have collaborated with a kidnap syndicate in Aniocha north to perpetrate the crime.

Residents say the Obomkpa/Ukwu-Nzu and now Olona Axis of Aniocha North have remained notorious for such crimes as that is the same area where the reverend was kidnapped the first time.

Other persons such as the Managing Director of a construction company, as well as the chairman of the Aniocha north Traditional Rulers’ Committee, Mr Obi Sunday Olisenweokwu, were also reportedly kidnapped around the area.

The Police, however, assured the public that it will do everything to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice and the victim is rescued.

Related Stories

Abducted Methodist Priest, Two Others Regain Freedom In Osun State
Osinbajo Calls For Security Reforms As Priests Are Buried In Benue
Catholics Protest Nationwide As Murdered Priests Are Buried

 

Also in Osun State, a Methodist priest (Reverend) Kayode Akande and two other church leaders were kidnapped along the Iwo-Oshogbo road while returning from a church programme.

They, however, regained their freedom about a week after.

In April, gunmen stormed the St Ignatius Catholic Church in Benue State, killing two priests and other members of the church who were holding a funeral service.

Following the spate of attacks in the state since the beginning of the year which has left hundreds dead and several other displaced, the Benue State government said the state was under a siege.

Subsequently, the Catholic Mission in Nigeria held a nationwide prayer and peaceful protest against the incessant killings across the country.

Beyond that, there have been several calls for security reforms to ensure greater efficiency and service delivery across the nation.

Herdsmen Kidnap Priest, Two Others In Osun

Fire Wreaks Havoc At FRCN Station In Osun

 

Suspected herdsmen on Sunday evening kidnapped a Methodist priest, (Rev) Kayode Akande, in Osun State.

The Bishop of Methodist Church, (Osogbo Diocese) Mr Amos Ogunrinde, confirmed the incident to Channels Television.

One of the clerics in the church who also spoke to Channels TV on the condition of anonymity said the priest was kidnapped along the Iwo-Osogbo Road with two other church leaders.

He explained that they were returning from a meeting held at Ile-Ogbo when the criminals stopped their vehicles and took them away.

“The three people were returning to Osogbo from Ile Ogbo when the Fulani herdsmen took them away. They went for a meeting and they were on their way back to Osogbo when they were waylaid by the hoodlums.

“The criminals released others and the two cars in which they were travelling and took away the three of them,” he said.

Read Also: Catholic Priest Murder: Police Arrest Two Suspects In Imo

The cleric, however, stated that the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Fimihan Adeoye, was immediately contacted and he acted promptly.

“Policemen were deployed on the road immediately and they have been combing the bushes and I just pray they would get these people quickly.

“We are all praying to God so that these hoodlums would not harm these people,” he said.

This comes weeks after 17 church members and two priests were also killed during a mass in Benue State.

Subsequently, the Catholic Mission in Nigeria held a nationwide prayer and peaceful protest against the incessant killings and attacks in parts of the country.

Also, Catholics in Imo State in an open letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, called on him to urgently protect Nigerians from attacks.