Nigerian Christians are desperate for the world to notice the violence they are experiencing, said an expert on religious persecution at an academic lecture Friday in the Gentile Gallery.
Stephen Rasche, an American lawyer and senior fellow for international policy at the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C., said, “The healing of the world starts with us.”
The academic lecture included video clips from Nigerian Christians telling their stories of violence. The majority of the clips were from Nigerian bishops Stephen Dami Mamza and Matthew Kukah who made video messages specifically for the students and faculty at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Rasche commented on the videos along with event moderator Kathryn Jean Lopez, senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of the National Review.
Lopez said the persecution of Nigerian Christians in the north of the country is a reality of the plight of the Christians there. Violence has expanded over the country, especially in important Catholic dioceses.
Lopez, who quoted one of Kukah’s video messages, said, “Our brothers and sisters in Christ are waiting for a distracted world to pay attention.”
The video clips showed that a cause of the displacement and sufferings of the Nigerian people are Islamic herdsmen coming into villages and wiping out the people, especially Christian farmers.
In one of his messages, Kukah said the Catholic Church has been an important part of higher education in Nigeria over the past 100 years.
In his final video clip, Kukah said, “Christianity offers Nigeria a good opportunity to be a good society.”
The lecture ended with a Q&A session.
Sophomore Olivia Poirier said, “My take on the talk is that it’s a very powerful message that much needed to be spread. It reminds us not only of the deterioration of morality around the world but also that some nations are in worse shape than us. And it allows us to take a first step in the direction of extending our hands to charity, to help those less fortunate than us. It’s matters of not just awareness, but making the effort to better ourselves and help others.”
Freshman Ryan Praetz said, “I thought it was interesting. (It) brought about some awareness (for the Nigerian People); I definitely think that it’s cool that they had this (event) on campus for us.”
The lecture was sponsored by the school of theology and philosophy.