If there is one thing that John Allen (now of Crux 2.0) knows well, it’s the issue of persecuted Christians across the globe.
At Crux, Allen has an interview with a Nigerian bishop, His Excellency Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto. His diocese is in a traditionally Muslim corner of Nigeria. He is in New York City right now and he will be giving a talk tonight at NYU about Boko Haram. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with him over the last few days, since we are staying in the same place. He is a clear-eyed fellow. I particularly liked something he told me about how he decided that in his diocese there were going to be Corpus Christi processions even though they hadn’t been done for many years. We have to take the Faith into the streets!
In any event, check out Allen’s (phone) interview with with Bp. Kukah.
Here is a taste…
Located in extreme northwestern Nigeria near the border with Niger, Sokoto is overwhelmingly Muslim and the seat of the former “Sokoto Caliphate,” the traditional seat of Islamic rule in West Africa. The tiny Catholic flock of around 30,000 in Sokoto is about .2 percent of the population, and it’s long been consigned to second-class citizenship, frozen out of the media and public life, perhaps seen but rarely heard.
Especially with the rise of the radical Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram, life for the Christian minority in northern Nigeria has become increasingly perilous, and they often have the sense of facing it alone – not feeling great solidarity from fellow believers around the world and, for that matter, even from the largely Christian areas in the south of their own country.
In that context, Kukah, 63, in many ways is their great hope.
He’s one of Nigeria’s most respected Catholic intellectuals, holding a Ph.D. from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, has a list of books to his credit longer than some small publishing houses, and has a gift for putting complex ideas into accessible and ever-provocative ways.
I can confirm this description. I think his talk will be great. Alas, I cannot attend since this is my final day in Gotham.
Take a look at the interview. His remarks about Boko Haram are pretty interesting.
Could you please provide a link to the interview? I couldn’t find it at Crux 2.0.
Perhaps the Pope has a little space left in the Vatican for some of Bishop Kukah’s persecuted flock?
Sigh. In my parish, they’re having a special event – in the church, not in the hall – sponsored by some leftist “pan-religious” group – supporting Islam because somebody in another town in a neighboring county put up a billboard tallying up deaths from Islamic terrorism.
I think I’m going to find a different parish. In the last year or so, mine has gone crazy. The Francis Effect, I assume.
Yeah, great, but as we all know, African men only see the priesthood as their ticket out of poverty.
TomG, are you being facetious?
Bishop Kukah said: “However, it’s important to say that those prejudices didn’t just pop up overnight. They reflect the long-standing attitude of the Muslim political elite in northern Nigeria, who have systematically denied Christians access to land and access to space in public life. They prepared the ground that Boko Haram has exploited.”
That “preparing of the ground” is a tactic that sounds familiar here in the West.
Bishop Kukah also said: “There’s been a tremendous mobilization of resources and personnel [for Boko Haram] that’s clearly beyond the capacity of the local Muslim community.”
Cheers and Prayers for Bishop Kukah and his flock. We could use more of their clear-eyed analysis and fortitude in the West.
I heard Bishop Kukah tonight at NYU. He was wonderful. He radiated holiness. He was eloquent, faithful, modest, funny, and deadly serious all at the same time. May God keep him safe from harm.
The other presenters on the panel were also helpful in pointing out the need to make the “Nigeria-ization” of Souther Sudan better known as what has happened in Nigeria is happening in places that were stable not so long ago. The Bishop did not support the idea of a partitioned Nigeria and said that his countrymen recoiled at the idea.
Elizabeth D: No; sarcastic. Statements by the German bishops (especially Kasper) strongly imply this. Sometimes I wonder if these people are really even Christians.