The cathedral in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri was heavily damaged in a June 7 bombing.
“St. Patrick’s Cathedral was seriously damaged, windows and doors [were] destroyed, the whole building was shaken to its foundations by the violence of the explosion,” said Bishop Oliver Doeme.
Local authorities said that the Islamist group Boko Haram was responsible for the attack on the cathedral as well as recent attacks on a church, a school, and police stations.
Founded in Maiduguri in 2002, Boko Haram (the words mean “Western or non-Islamic education is a sin”) seeks the imposition of sharia in Nigeria. Boko Haram’s late founder, Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf, told the BBC in 2009 that
there are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and understood that the present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam. Like rain. We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain. Like saying the world is a sphere. If it runs contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it.
15% of the nation’s 146.5 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics. An estimated 50% are Muslim, 25% are Protestant, and 10% retain indigenous beliefs. Maiduguri is heavily Muslim: the territory covered by the Diocese of Maiduguri is only 2% Catholic.