Bishop Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, has decried the “shocking” persecution of Christians in some African countries, who are being “simply swept away by radical Islamists.”
After meeting Monday with the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Valentin Matungul, the Patriarch said that Africa is suffering a “monstrous extermination of an immense number of Christians” at the hands of radical Muslims. Kirill said he had also spoken of the matter with Pope Francis.
“We are very concerned about the situation of Christians, simply swept away by radical Islamists,” Kirill said at the patriarchal residence in St. Daniel’s Monastery where he received the ambassador. “They are our brothers and sisters, and we share in their tragedy.”
According to the patriarch, several African nations are undergoing “shocking” killings of a large number of Christians, including Nigeria, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Congo is facing Islamic extremism and the terrorism that often accompanies it, he noted. “We have raised this issue at the international level. I have had the opportunity to discuss it during my meeting with Pope Francis,” Kirill said, adding that he has pleaded with world leaders to make every effort to put a halt to “the monstrous crime of our times: the extermination of a huge number of Christians.”
The Russian Orthodox Church is “doing its utmost” to raise this issue so that the public community will be aware of it, Kirill said.
Earlier this year, on the first anniversary of the Islamic State massacre of 21 Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill issued a joint declaration denouncing the systematic persecution of Christians throughout the world.
In their declaration, the two religious leaders noted that in many countries of the Middle East and North Africa, “whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated.”
Open Doors, a U.S.-based organization that helps persecuted Christians worldwide, estimated last February in a joint report with the Christian Association of Nigeria that from 9,000 to 11,500 Christians have died because of religious violence in the north of this African nation. Moreover, 13,000 churches were closed or destroyed and more than a million Christians have become “displaced.”
Africa has been particularly hard hit by Islamic radicals of the Boko Haram terror group, notably in Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. Boko Haram swore allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group in 2015, followed by a portion of the Islamist al-Shabaab group in Somalia and northern Kenya.
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