“From the Muslim community I have received many messages of encouragement and soon I will meet the emir Alhaji Suleiman, the highest Islamic authority in the region” said Monsignor Malachy Goltok, Bishop of Bauchi, to MISNA noting that he believes in dialogue more than before the attack.
Monsignor Goltok has just returned from the hospital in his hometown. He prayed for each of the 47 injured and rejoiced for the unexpected recovery of twins 20 years. The car bomb killed four people, but it is possible that the death toll could yet escalate. The attacker was an 18 years old man; he launched himself againt the entrance gate just as the faithful were beginning to come out after the first Sunday mass.
“I prayed all night for the boy,” says Monsignor Goltok. The Bishop received received dozens of phone calls from neighbors and friends, amny of whom Muslim. Monsignor Goltok has also noted the affection of the parishioners for his church, dedicated to St. John. It is here that, at any moment, the Emir of Bauchi, who has authority in the largely Muslim northeastern area.
The two religious figures will hold a dialogue, made all the more necessary after the attack yesterday. Although so far, nobody has claimed responsibility, many believe that Boko Haram was involved an extremist Islamic group that has already hit several churches last year. More than 40 people were killed in Madalla, just outside Abuja, on Christmas Day. More than 50 in Kaduna, on Easter Sunday. Now it is Bauchi’s turn and it is a city closer to the Boko Haram strongholds.
Still, the bishop said, in recent weeks the city had been quiet. Unlike what happened in Kano, the most important city in northern Nigeria, no one had taken to the streets to denounce the film offensive to the Prophet Muhammad, unlike the street in many Arab and Muslim countries. Monsignor Goltok also remembered that a little girl was killed in the attack. “Every renewal – he adds – changes from forgiveness.”