A Nigerian bishop says the rosary is “the greatest weapon” against Jihadi violence in Africa.
According to Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram, the Islamist terror group dwindled in north-east Nigeria after the 200,000 Catholics of Maidguri Diocese joined a rosary campaign in 2013.
“Since then, thousands of terrorists have surrendered their weapons,” the bishop said in Westminster, London earlier this week.
“Many displaced people have returned home and the situation has improved,” he told MPs including Fiona Bruce, the Prime Minister’s Special envoy for Freedom of Religion or Beliefs and Jim Shannon of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion of Belief.
Baroness Cox chaired the gathering, at Parliament, for the launch of Aid to the Church in Need’s report Religious Freedom in the World: Africa Update.
Bishop Doeme who wrote the report’s foreword said: “It is only through prayer that we will win the war we are fighting. Our fight is, first and foremost, a spiritual battle.”
The report highlights an “explosion” of militant violence in Africa: 77 per cent of all reported violent events in Africa last year involved militant Islamists, according to the Aid to the Church in Need report, citing statistics from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.
Other findings include a rise in civilian deaths from 4,307 in 2021 to 7,220 in 2022. In Nigeria, while Boko Haram has weakened, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies recorded a 70 per cent rise in fatalities in north-west Nigeria, Chad and south-eastern Niger.
John Pontifex, spokesman for ACN, said Jihadi militants “systematically attacked all those who do not follow their extreme Islamist ideology” including Christians and non-extremist Muslims. He said various factors including poverty, youth unemployment, illiteracy and ethnic clashes had acted as “recruiting sergeants” for Islamist militant groups.
Aid to the Church in Need is inviting individuals, parishes, groups and schools to pledge to pray a total of 100,000 decades of the rosary for Africa’s persecuted Christians. “This is for all those who have lost loved ones, homes, jobs and so much else as part of the persecution and other violence unfolding in parts of the continent,” said Pontifex.
The charity is trying to raise £100,000 for Africa by Christmas. To pledge a rosary please visit www.acnuk.org/redwednesday