In the summer of 2017, the Maiduguri bishop from Nigeria Oliver Dashe Doeme visited Hungary. Previously he had gained fame because of a vision in which Jesus promised him the termination of the Islamist terror group Boko Haram. The bishop gave a lecture at Pázmány Péter Catholic University and later offered an exclusive interview to 777blog, which we now publish in its entirety.
You come from a diocese that the Boko Haram terrorist organisation has actually destroyed. How would you describe the devastation?
It is the basis of Boko Haram philosophy that Western Civilisation and education are both sinful and harmful. The irony of this is that despite this statement Boko Haram activities are based on Western achievements such as the telephone, the internet and modern equipment.
According to them, Christianity is also a product imported from the Western world; hence they ultimately hate Christianity and Christians.
First, they attacked our Christian brothers: their homes, their shops, their schools. They murder those who resist conversion to Islam. It gave them courage that many people from inside and outside Nigeria supported them in various forms – unfortunately, this included even the military and security services. That’s why it was very difficult to fight them. The most serious attacks took place in 2014: twenty-five priests, two hundred catechists, and eighty thousand Catholics were expelled from their homes. We also heard it in the European news that children were kidnapped: and this terrible monstrosity happened in our diocese! Their primary targets are Christian men – who are murdered – and then their wives are forced to convert to Islam. Because of this, much more men were killed than women. Now we have to take care of more than five thousand widows in the diocese and also approximately fifteen thousand orphans with them.
We have read that your institutions had suffered considerable attacks too…
Two hundred of our churches have been destroyed and our seminary was attacked as well, then it was razed to the ground. Our institutions for training catechists and the two hospitals run by our monks have suffered the same fate. We must take care of many refugees who are forced to look for a new residence within the country. Despite of all of this, our diocese is strong because the faith of our believers is irreproachable!
What do they rely on?
Our strength has two sources: respect for the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. These pillars have helped us so much. We have many prayer-meetings at which ask for Mary’s intercession; we do this at family level and at the diocesan level as well.
With the power of prayer, we manage to force back the terrorist organisation and so, many have come back to their homes today.
So really, we have two tasks: the spiritual support of our people and the physical reconstruction of the diocese. This is one of the reasons I am here in Hungary: to tell all of this to the greatest possible number of people.
I have heard an interesting story about you. Has Jesus really appeared to you?
Yes, I experienced an apparition during the most difficult times in 2014. At that time, many of us were in a traumatised condition; there was little hope. In those days, just like now I closed my day by retiring to the chapel and praying the rosary. When I lifted my eyes, I saw Jesus standing next to the altar. He was holding a sword in his hand, something like the Swiss guards bear. I asked; “What is this, my Lord?” He did not answer but came closer to me. When he was by my side, he held out his hand and handed over the sword which I took from him. Then the sword transformed into a rosary in my hands.
Jesus said three times, “Boko Haram is finished, Boko Haram is finished, Boko Haram is finished”.
Then he disappeared. I did not need help to understand: the message is that we need to pray the rosary more. I wrote a circular letter for the diocese's followers and since then we keep on saying this prayer a lot. There is a sense of intercession from the Virgin. She is fighting the terrorist organisation instead of us and I am convinced she will win.
Is it possible that Christians and Muslims could live in peace together in Nigeria once more?
We pray a lot for this to come true. It is important to know that Boko Haram is also murdering Muslims; even more destruction has been done to them than to Christians. This helps us find each another because this is the common enemy that unites Muslims who want peace and Christians. That is why we have a great responsibility to teach our devotees to practice forgiveness, which can be the only solution. I hope that our relationship can be improved and developed.
Source: 777blog/Gergely Vágvölgyi