Pope Francis asked the faithful gathered during Angelus in the Vatican on Wednesday to pray for persecuted Christians around the world.
“So many Christians continue to be the target of violence: let us remember them in our prayers,” the pope told pilgrims in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.
He then called for prayers for Father Isaac Achi of the Diocese of Minna in northern Nigeria who was killed last Sunday after bandits set fire to his parish rectory.
Armed bandits attacked the parish residence at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Kafin Koro, Nigeria, at 3 a.m. on Sunday.
Another priest at the rectory, Father Collins Omeh, escaped the building but sustained gunshot wounds. The Diocese of Minna has said that Omeh is responding to treatment.
Pope Francis then extended a special greeting to French-speaking pilgrims from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he will be visiting at the end of this month.
On the same day that Father Achi was killed in Nigeria, the Islamic State bombed a service at a Pentecostal church in the eastern Congolese town of Kasindi, killing at least 14 people and injuring more than 60.
In a message of condolence after the bombing, Pope Francis expressed his “compassion and closeness to all the families so hard hit by this tragedy.”
The pope’s upcoming trip to Africa will provide an opportunity for him to further highlight the ongoing violence against Christians in the region.
On his second day in Kinshasa, Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with victims of violence from the eastern region of the DRC, where more than 5.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. – with a report from CNA