Pope Francis took advantage of the prayer of the Angelus, which he presided on Sunday February 28 from his window at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, to discuss the fate of the 317 young girls kidnapped on Friday February 26 in their school in Nigeria. “I join my voice to that of the bishops of Nigeria in condemning the vile kidnapping of 317 girls, kidnapped from their school, in Jangebe, in the north-west of the country”, thus declared the Pope.
→ CONTEXT. Nigeria: 317 teenage girls kidnapped by gunmen
“I pray for these girls, that they can go home soon, he continued, his face dark and his voice deep. I am close to their families and to themselves. Let us pray to Our Lady to keep them. Pope Francis then recited a “Hail Mary” in Italian, with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
The 317 schoolgirls were kidnapped during the night of Thursday February 25 to Friday February 26 in their boarding school by armed men. On Saturday February 27, the Nigerian president denounced an act “Inhuman” while warning that his government would cede “Not to the blackmail of bandits who target innocent students in the hope of paying large ransoms”. In the country, kidnappings are relatively frequent and aim at obtaining the payment of large sums of money.
“An insoluble social crime”
In an interview with the local daily Vanguard, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja and President of the Nigerian Bishops’ Conference, said the kidnappings were ” an insoluble social crime in the country today ”. According to him, “Most kidnapping cases go unreported for fear of reprisal and some people say they are not even convinced that the police can help them out of their predicament”. Prison sentences, up to life imprisonment “For extreme cases”, “ do not seem dissuasive enough for kidnappers “, regretted Bishop Kaigama.
In a statement released Tuesday, February 23, before the kidnapping of the 317 young girls, the Nigerian bishops already denounced a “Seriously growing insecurity” in the country. Fearing a secession of some federated states of Nigeria, the bishops called for “Make the necessary sacrifices that would allow us to better manage our differences and transform them into a positive rather than a negative force”.