This year, due to the reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, in many parts of the Catholic world the faithful will not be allowed to partake in the Holy Week ceremonies; the liturgical celebrations will be carried out behind closed doors. While the world has been occupied with the spread of the coronavirus—especially since it appears to be the only tragedy covered by the mainstream media—one “pandemic” which has been all but put on the back burner should remind us of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. It is the story of those who will never be able to attend Mass in church: the unforgotten Christians who have been and continue to be persecuted by Islamic jihadists.
In the village of Auno, 20 kilometers from Maiduguri, Nigeria, five people were killed by jihadists last Saturday. While the victims’ religious affiliation has yet to be determined, Islamists in northern Nigeria almost always attack Christians. Gunmen from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stopped some vehicles around 5:30 p.m. and attacked the drivers and passengers with machetes as they fled into the bush. “We have so far recovered five dead bodies and 14 people with severe injuries all from machete cuts,” militia leader Babakura Kolo told the AP.
As reported by Aid to the Church in Need, the nonstop massacres of Christians which are met with impunity by the Nigerian government prompted Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, in a January 3 report, to express his disgust with the government: “The only difference between the government and Boko Haram,” he said, “is that Boko Haram is holding a bomb.” The Nigerian government is “using the levers of power to secure the supremacy of Islam, which then gives more weight to the idea that it can be achieved by violence.” Yet these are just a few of many Christian killings that hardly even make it to social media.