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Primates unite in outrage, prayer for schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria

Posted on: May 9, 2014 5:23 PM
Related Categories: Global, Nigeria

By ACNS staff

Primates from countries including Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa have joined the worldwide outcry the abduction of more than two hundred young girls from Chibok, Nigeria.

Over the past week Church leaders on five continents have added their voices to the multitude of others calling for the safe return of the girls.

Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba condemned abductions of Nigerian Schoolgirls as an 'outrage'. He called for "all of Africa, and especially South Africa" to rise up and demand the release of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted from their school three weeks ago.

Primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Francisco da Silva issued a lengthy statement condemning the “terrible act”.

“It was with a heavy heart that the Brazilian people, along with the rest of the world, learned of the kidnapping of over 200 young girls in Nigeria, at the hands of extremist group Boko Haram,” he wrote. “Many of us, especially in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, have remembered the girls, their families, and the Nigerian people with prayers, tears, and compassion during this time.

“Nigeria, like so many countries, has of course had its trying and difficult times as a multi-religious society – but it is in times of difficulty like these that we set aside our differences, and stand together—in solidarity, in demanding peace, and most importantly, demanding the safe return of these young women. Not simply a return to their families – but their return to the lives they knew, their ability to go to school and be educated, to have a better future, and to be beautiful, active members of a future Nigerian society.”

Writing to his brother Archbishop, the Most Revd Ian Ernest said, "The Anglican Church of the Indian Ocean [and] more particularly your friends of the Anglican Diocese of Mauritius wish to assure you of our deepest concern for these innocent girls who have been abducted by irresponsible extremists whose objectives are to instill fear and terror in the lives of ordinary citizens.

"We can no longer tolerate these actions which cause distress and trauma to those who don’t deserve to lose their dignity and their humanity. We are praying for you and uphold you with love in our thoughts."

Canadian primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz called the Anglican Church of Canada to pray for the situation in Nigeria, “The group behind the schoolgirl kidnappings, Boko Haram, and its declared intention ‘to sell them in the market’ is appalling. It is an abomination against internationally held human rights, and an absolute affront to the efforts of many nations to honour the Millennium Development Goals to empower women and young girls through a good education.

“I am asking Anglicans to offer prayers of special intent in the coming weeks with people of all faiths who are appalled by these crimes,” he added.

The Anglican and Roman Catholic Archbishops of New Zealand called on people to pray for the release and protection of the 200 schoolgirls. Anglican Archbishops Philip Richardson and Brown Turei, and Roman Catholic Archbishop John Dew said this Sunday is an opportunity for churches across the country to pray for, and so stand with governments and churches across the globe, wanting a safe return of the young women.

Primate of the Episcopal Church the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a statement that the Church was “horrified” and what was taking place. “The unfortunate truth is that girls and women are still deemed dispensable in much of the world, or at least of lesser value than members of the other sex,” said the Presiding Bishop. “The necessary response is education – of girls and boys, in equal numbers and to an equal degree, that all might take their rightful place in societies that serve all their citizens with equal respect and dignity.

Calling what happened “an atrocious and inexcusable act” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, “My prayers and thoughts go out to the young people and their families at this upsetting time. I appeal to those who have taken these schoolgirls to release them immediately and unharmed.

"This is in a part of Nigeria I have visited and in a country whose people are close to my heart. Let your hearts be open in compassion and mercy to those who have suffered so much.”