Vatican Condemns Media for Treating Attack on Nigerian Catholic Church as ‘Second-Class Suffering’ Unworthy of Coverage

On Sunday, a day on which Catholics celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, terrorists attacked and killed at least fifty parishioners at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in southwestern Nigeria.

Some of the gunmen were dressed as parishioners, and explosives were also used to carry out the attack. Women and children were killed in the deadly assault, which took place around 11:30 a.m. Gunmen fired from both inside the building and outside as worshippers fled.

Ondo’s governor, Arakunrin Akeredolu, condemned the “vile & satanic attack,” tweeting:

“The vile & satanic attack is a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.”

“This massacre in a church while filled with Sunday worshippers is an atrocity that we’ve repeatedly seen in northern Nigeria over the years. Those were the work of Islamist extremists,” Nina Shea, an expert in religious freedom at the Hudson Institute and human rights lawyer, told the Catholic News Agency on Sunday.

“War-like attacks” on Christians in Nigeria have been spreading, due to “governmental passivity,” Shea said:


“While the facts are still emerging about today’s massacre, it is clear that large scale, war-like attacks on Catholics and other Christians are spreading in a system of impunity. The Buhari government has allowed this continue unabated and fails to protect Nigeria’s churches. This governmental passivity is being seen as a green light for extremists to target Christians.”

Shea also strongly criticized the indifference of the Biden Administration, which has delisted Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) suffering egregious religious persecution.

“Kidnappings and murders of priests and pastors, enslavement of Christian girls, and mob lynchings for alleged blasphemy against Islam” have only increased as a result Nigeria’s removal from CPC status, Shea told CNA.

On Monday, the Vatican condemned mass media for relegating such horrific attacks to “second-class suffering” status unworthy of coverage.

The sparse of coverage of the attack on the Nigerian church is a sad comment on the state of journalism, Vatican press officer Sergio Centofanti wrote Monday, in his article, “Nigerian Church attack: When suffering is overlooked”:

“The terrible massacre carried out on Pentecost Sunday on a Catholic church in Nigeria has received very little coverage in the global mass media, which reveals the existence of a ‘second-class suffering’ that induces further suffering and is accompanied by a sense of feeling forgotten due to seeing pain as not deserving worldwide attention.”

Immense pain and suffering are being utterly neglected due to the “indifference and lack of compassion” that continues to be exhibited by the world’s mass media, Centofanti writes:

“It is striking to browse the webpages of major news outlets and not to see among the top news items – with a few exceptions – the dramatic massacre carried out in a Catholic church in Nigeria during Mass on Pentecost Sunday.

“African media outlets have complained for decades of being on the margins of international attention, not only regarding tragedies but even especially all that is beautiful and positive on the continent. Theirs is not the lament of a victim, but a simple statement of a reality: Africa’s humanity is disregarded in favor of many hidden or overt interests for its natural resources.”

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the horrific attack at Saint Francis church in Owo in #Nigeria,” Pope Francis tweeted Monday, calling for the faithful to pray for the victims, as well as for the conversion of “those blinded by hatred and violence.”


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