Archbishops’ plea for Boko Haram to release captive school girls

The Archbishops of Canterbury, Cape Town and Canada and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church have released statements condemning the kidnapping of over 200 girls from a state school in Borno State in Northeastern Nigeria.

The Archbishops of Canterbury, Cape Town and Canada and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church have released statements condemning the kidnapping of over 200 girls from a state school in Borno State in Northeastern Nigeria.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby on 7 May 2014 stated:

“This is an atrocious and inexcusable act and my prayers and thoughts go out to the young people and their families at this upsetting time. I appeal to those who have taken these schoolgirls to release them immediately and unharmed. This is in a part of Nigeria I have visited and in a country whose people are close to my heart. Let your hearts be open in compassion and mercy to those who have suffered so much.”

The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Thabo Makboca on 5 May 2014 called for “all of Africa, and especially South Africa” to rise up and demand the release of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted from their school three weeks ago. The Anglican archbishop was preaching at the 150th anniversary celebrations of St John’s Church, Bellville in Cape Town.

During his sermon, he called on the congregation to “voice your outrage at the killings in northern Nigeria, and at the recent abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls there.” He added: “It is deeply shocking that 276 girls between 12 and 17 are reported still to be missing, three weeks after being abducted.”

“We are one continent and these girls are our children.”

“Why has the world not erupted in outrage at this crime? Where are our Ubuntu values when girls are kidnapped at such a tender age?”

“All of Africa, and especially South Africa which has benefitted from the hospitality and generosity of other nations, must rise up and demand their release.”

A statement on the abduction of two hundred young girls from Chibok, Nigeria from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

That’s the curdling cry of mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of the more than two hundred young girls abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, three weeks ago. The abductions have traumatized families and outraged a nation. The group behind the schoolgirl kidnappings, Boko Haram, and its declared intention “to sell them in the market” is appalling. It is an abomination against internationally held human rights, and an absolute affront to the efforts of many nations to honour the Millennium Development Goals to empower women and young girls through a good education.

As this atrocity continues to unfold with the reports of yet more abductions for the same evil intentions, the world watches with horror.

I am asking Anglicans to offer prayers of special intent in the coming weeks with people of all faiths who are appalled by these crimes. Pray for these innocent girls and young women terrorized and trafficked at gunpoint under the cover of darkness into a future that is grim. Pray for their families who are desperate for information as to their whereabouts. Pray for those who seek a forum for negotiating their release. Pray for a change of heart on the part of these armed extremists. Pray for the safe return of the daughters of Nigeria.

Let’s remember these young women and their families not only in the context of the community gathered in liturgy, but also in a public way. Let’s plan community prayer vigils. Let’s light candles. Let’s bring into these moments of trauma for the daughters of Nigeria the very thing we do during the White Ribbon Campaign between December 6th, National Day of Action to End Violence against Women, to December 10th, International Human Rights Day. Let’s wear a white ribbon and let’s renew the promise associated with it.

“I will not commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.” 

Let’s hang white ribbons on our church doors, and encourage other keepers of public buildings to hang ribbons as well.

As we hold before the mercy and justice of God these young women and their families, I commend for our use this prayer being offered by Anglicans worldwide

On 8 May 2014 Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church of the USA issued the following statement:

The Episcopal Church is horrified at the violence perpetrated against innocent schoolgirls in Nigeria, and the willingness of those who should be addressing this to look the other way.  The unfortunate truth is that girls and women are still deemed dispensable in much of the world, or at least of lesser value than members of the other sex.  The necessary response is education – of girls and boys, in equal numbers and to an equal degree, that all might take their rightful place in societies that serve all their citizens with equal respect and dignity.  I pray that all Episcopalians, and all people of faith and good will, will pray and plead with their political leaders to find the kidnappers, liberate these girls, and restore them to the safety they deserve.  May God have mercy on us all.

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