From the Vatican, Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity and sent his prayers to the victims of the St. Francis Xavier Church in Owo, Nigeria.
He symphatised with those who were affected by the attacks on worshippers by gunmen who opened fire on worshippers when the Church celebrated Pentecost Sunday.
The Pope prayed for the victims and for the country, painfully attacked at a time of celebration, and he entrusts everyone to the Lord, that God might send His Spirit to console them, this was said in a statement by Matteo Bruni, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, on Sunday.
It has been reported that at least 50 people were killed in the attack and dozens, wounded, who are receiving treatment in hospitals in Owo. On social media platforms, doctor have taken to request for blood donors to save lives of victims, according to Reuters.
According to Fr. Augustine Ikwu, the Communications Director, Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, of the Diocese of Ondo, expressed his closeness to the victims and their families. Fr. Ikwu said fears have risen as many more people may die from their wounds and lamented that the Church had been “violated.”
He nullified initial reports on social media that the attackers had kidnapped the priest and other members of the congregation.
“All the priests in the parish are safe and none was kidnapped,” said Fr. Ikwu in a press release. “The Bishop of the Diocese is also with them at this trying time.”
He added that the Bishop also urges Catholics to “remain calm, be law abiding, and pray for peace and normalcy to return to our community, state, and country.”
Fr. Ikwu said the identity of the attackers remains unknown, but that Nigerian security forces have been deployed in the area surrounding the church in Owo. He also invoked God’s help to restore “peace and tranquility” in the country.