Killing of Priests, Worshippers, Blasphemy, Affront Against God - Onaiyekan
The Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, on Tuesday stated that killing people in worship, whether in Churches or Mosques is an affront against God.
Onaiyekan stated this at Se Sugh U Maria Pilgrimage Centre, Ayati, Benue state during a homily at a Mass held in honour of the two priests and 17 other worshippers killed during morning Mass by herdsmen in Ayar Mbolom, Gwer LGA last month.
Onaiyekan who described as a horrific and terrific massacre of innocent people in Benue queried, "If we are not safe in our place of worship centres, where else can we be safe ?"
He said every human life is precious to God insisting that to lay violent hands against an annointed priest of God is the worst form of blasphemy.
Cardinal Onayeikan consoled all those affected in one way or another saying "the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God and the enemy cannot do them anything again. Let us thank God in all situations. To God, nothing is hidden and to us who love and trust God, He will turn everything for our good.
"As we gather contemplating the 17 caskets holding the remains of our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and children, we look back on the horrific massacre which took place not long ago.
"As humans we are plunged into sorrow and many of us will not recover from the shock for a very long time. There have been unexplainable and inexcusable spate of killings in Benue before April 23 when these matyrs were killed and more have been killed thereafter.
"This cannot be allowed to continue. Every human life is precious to God who made us in his image. One life killed is one life too many. This is not the time to count the number of the dead but killing people either in churches or mosques is an affront against God.
He assured that God is merciful but warned that killing men of God is capable of stretching God's patience to the point of danger and inviting the wrath of God.
He prayed God to have mercy on Nigeria, rest the souls of the murdered and martyred, adding "May the perpetrators hearts be changed from wickedness to goodness. May the Lord take control of our land and grant the government the wisdom to carry out their duties diligently.
He admonished Christians to stay awake and be vigilante. "Be one another's keeper. If murderers are allowed to continue killing without checkmating them, it will come to a time where people will begin to use others means of self defence.
He prayed that such a time must not come because an eye for an eye will make the entire nation to go blind just as he preached for forgiveness.
The archbishop warned that the killings must not be politicized but that a radical change for the better is imperative to rescue the country which he said is in a state of emergency.
He called for synergy and urged the leaders to see beyond politics so as to correct the seeming rumours and naratives of bringing the country to territorial conquest, ethnic cleansing and religious imposition.
Welcoming worshippers at the pilgrim centre earlier, the Catholic Bishop of Makurdi Diocese, Bishop Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe, said that the diocese had decided to bury the victims at the ''Se Sugh U Maria Pilgrimage Centre, Ayati, Gwer LGA of the state because they were the martyrs of the church.
He prayed God to rest their souls and that their blood should bring peace to the state.