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Nigeria under siege from many forces
LAGOS (CNS): Nigeria’s bishops condemned what they call brutal massacres of innocent people with at least 80 people killed since the start of the year in conflict over fertile land.
“Herdsmen may be under pressure to save their livestock and economy, but this is never to be done at the expense of other peoples’ lives or livelihoods,” the Nigerian Bishops’ Conference said in a January 16 statement. 
The “mass slaughter of unarmed citizens by armed herdsmen in some communities in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba states has caused national shock, grief and outcry,” the bishops said. Benue, in north-central Nigeria, has been the worst hit. 
Fighting is often between mostly semi-nomadic Muslim herdsmen and predominantly Christian farmers. The former have been moving southward away from increasing desertification in the north, putting pressure on dwindling fertile land amid rapid population growth. 
The herdsmen, mainly from the Fulani ethnic group, strongly oppose new anti-grazing legislation that was signed into law by the Benue state government in November last year.
True believers want peace for Jerusalem 
VATICAN (CNS): In a letter to Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar University, Pope Francis said Christians, Muslims and Jews who are sincere about their faith must be committed to protecting the special character of Jerusalem and to praying and working for peace in the Holy Land.
Only a special, internationally guaranteed statute on the status of Jerusalem “can preserve its identity and unique vocation as a place of peace,” the pope wrote.
He added that when the city’s “universal value” is recognised and protected there can be “a future of reconciliation and hope for the entire region. This is the only aspiration of those who authentically profess themselves to be believers and who never tire of imploring with prayer a future of brotherhood for all.” 
El-Tayeb hosted a meeting on January 17 with Christian and Muslim clerics and regional political leaders in reaction to the move in December by the president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Young adults want to be heard by the Church
LINTHICUM (CNS):  It’s no secret that for years, teenagers and young adults have been leaving the Catholic Church, putting aside organised religion for a more personal spirituality, another faith tradition or no faith at all. 
A new study by St. Mary’s Press in the United States of America, looks at the reasons for such religious disaffiliation, asking teenagers and young adults from ages 15 to 25 a basic question: Why did you leave the Church? 
The answers reported in the study, Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation of Young Catholics, vary widely with respondents citing sociological, familial and spiritual reasons as well as opposition to organised religion. 
What’s key to the study, said John Vitek, CEO and president of St. Mary’s Press, is that the process gave young people a voice, something which has not happened often within the Church. 
He made the comments during the January 16 release of the findings at the Maritime Conference Centre near Baltimore, Maryland. 
“We wanted to hear in young people’s own words their lived experience and their stories. So we spent time listening to young people throughout the country, to hear their story in their own words, uncensored and unfiltered,” he said.
France to migrants with acceptance says bishop
Paris (SE): “France cannot take in all the misery of the world, but couldn’t it maybe take in more people and, above all, couldn’t it do it better?” Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, president of the French Bishops Conference, asked in the run-up to the World Day of Migrants on January 14, the Italian SIR news service reported. 
Noting that France is one of world’s wealthiest countries, he said, “The French bishops disagree with those who want to send back all who are not eligible for asylum.” 
The archbishop pointed out, “In the bible, strangers are often those who make us check if we are really part of the human family.”
The Church in France can attest to “the great generosity of its members and of many fellow citizens; many fine experiences of acceptance and efforts,” Archbishop Pontier said.
“We believe that, if the state and civilian communities engaged in genuine dialogue with the associations that work with migrants, then real progress could be made,” the archbishop said.
“Only the time will tell whether this is an one-off situation or a deep, epoch-making change that will transform the life of our country. In any case, our faith in humanity calls us to respond with acceptance,” he said.

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