Pope ‘saddened’ after shooting in Nigerian church

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis sent his condolences to the victims and survivors of a deadly shooting that occurred during Mass Aug. 6 at a parish in Nigeria.

Nigerians look at blood and clothing at the scene of a deadly shooting by unknown gunmen Aug. 6 at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu. Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened” after at least 11 people were killed and more a dozen others wounded when a gunman opened fire on worshippers that day. (CNS photo/Mike Agada, EPA)

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, expressed the pope’s sentiments in a message dated Aug. 7 to Bishop Hilary Odili Okeke of Nnewi.

Pope Francis, the message said, was “deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury following the violent attack” in St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu, a town located in the Nigerian southern state of Anambra.

According to the Nigerian newspaper, The Vanguard, witnesses say a gunman entered during an early morning Sunday Mass and opened fire during the prayer of the faithful.

The BBC and other news outlets reported Aug. 7 that at least 11 people were killed and as many as 18 others wounded as they attempted to flee the carnage. While no suspects have been caught, authorities believe the target was a young businessman involved in a drug deal gone wrong.

The pope extended “heartfelt condolences” to the faithful of the diocese, especially “the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy.”

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