Women religious in Nigeria held a National Day of Prayer and Fasting for the respect of human life on Ash Wednesday, in light of the ongoing violence within the country.
The Feb. 14 day of prayer and fasting was facilitated by the Nigeria Conference of Women Religious and the African Faith & Justice Network's women empowerment project, with the theme “Nigeria Catholic nuns uphold the sacredness of life through prayer.”
The event included women from multiple religious congregations throughout the country, according to CANAA.
The sisters gathered reflected on the increasing “communal clashings” within Nigeria, including the alarming conflicts between farmers and herdsmen. They also pointed to the various killings, kidnappings, and particular violence against women that has been ongoing within the country.
The sisters additionally noted personal experiences of violations against human dignity, including multiple kidnappings within their own religious communities. One community recalled having their major superiors and councilors kidnapped and held for ransom in a dungeon for weeks, while another group of sisters expressed a similar occurrence.
Other instances of kidnapped or killed religious have surfaced over the past few years in Nigeria, causing further concern over the ongoing violence produced mainly by ethnic or religious conflicts, as well as the insurgency of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.
As violations against human dignity continue to plague Nigeria, the sisters encouraged the government and officials to enact measures of security for the defenseless and to create a safe environment for the people of Nigeria that would safeguard the lives of all people.
Prompted by the AFJN to use their influence for the good of human life, the sisters have taken up the mission to defend life within the country by bringing these issues to the public square — particularly through their most recent day of prayer and fasting.
While overwhelmed by the gravity of the challenge, the sisters said that after prayer, they have risen to the call to give public witness to the sacredness of life. AFJN also asked for prayers for the sisters’ challenge ahead in promoting human dignity in Nigeria.
“May the sisters’ boldness and courage to act on behalf of justice in the public forum bring change of hearts, move the government and elected officials to act for the common good, and bring consolation to many who have lost their loved ones to violence in Nigeria.”