NEW YORK – The Catholic Church is working to bridge the divide between Muslims and Christians in a country where the divide between the groups is fraught with large and small issues, said a Nigerian archbishop.
Archbishop Ignatius A. Kaigama of Jos, a former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, gave examples from his archdiocese in the central part of the country.
In Jos, the bustling administrative capital of Plateau state, the archbishop established the Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace Centre in 2011 to “attempt to narrow the gap between different groups that are hostile to each other,” he said.
It is a place where “Muslims and Christians walk together,” the archbishop told Catholic News Service in early March. The archbishop was in New York to speak at a March 1 panel at the United Nations, “International Religious Freedom,” organized by the Holy See Observer Mission to the U.N.
“I have lived through all different types of crisis. I didn’t want to wait for big solutions, but wanted to do something small,” Archbishop Kaigama told CNS. “It’s a safe space to talk to one another and a proactive center to forestall crisis and possible violence.”
“We bring in Muslim and Christian primary and secondary school students and train them together in peace education. We also bring in traditional grassroots leaders to encourage people to cultivate dialogue,” he said.