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WYD Rio: speaking with Nigerian, Iraqi pilgrims

(Vatican Radio) Hundreds of thousands of young people from across the globe are in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope Francis. Our French colleague, Olivier Tosseri, is in Rio and caught up with several pilgrims from countries marred by interfaith and ethnic violence. He asked them how it feels to be a Christian in Rio for WYD celebrations.

Fr. Jude is a Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of Abuja, Nigeria. “It’s very cold; I’m already shivering!” he said, speaking of the drop in temperatures as crowds gathered on Copacobana beach.

“We have a large Catholic community in Nigeria and we have come, about one hundred of us priests and lay faithful, young people, who have represented Nigeria to come here and share in this very awesome and inspiring experience of a very large number of people who have gathered to celebrate Jesus, to celebrate our youth as one people, one body united by one faith in Jesus Christ.”

Christians in Nigeria have been attacked because of their faith in some parts of the country.
“Recently there’s some kind of tension in the northern part, the far northern part, of Nigeria. It is not the same thing in all of our Nigeria. But sometimes when you listen to the news you’ll be tempted to feel that in all of Nigeria there is tension. But it’s not like that because Nigeria is a very large society, very very big. With diverse people, diverse cultures, diverse ethnic groups.”

Terrorism, he says, is a global problem not just limited to Nigeria. “It is the extremists, the fanatics who are involved in that. There are Muslims who live peacefully together so it’s not a general problem. It a problem of extremists… if you go to the western part of Nigeria, from one family you can have a priest, a Catholic priest and you have others who are practicing Muslims and they live very happily together.”

Maan and Rowaid came from Baghdad, Iraq say they are proud to be Christians joining in the World Youth Day events in Rio:

“I feel very proud to be Christian in Baghdad also but here …it’s a very good experience to our soul and our personalities. It adds a lot to our personalities because there’s a different social, different countries, societies (represented here). So we are so happy to meet this big (crowd of) people here and meet the Pope.”

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