Saudis hit for crucifixion of Christians
CEBU CITY, Philippines—Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan condemned Saudi Arabia for crucifying convicts as a form of capital punishment, saying the practice disrespects Christianity aside from being cruel and inhuman.
He also condemned “terrorists,” apparently referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS), for also crucifying Christians “as a way of inflicting the greatest pain and degradation on their victims.”
He called victims of IS “Christian martyrs.”
Onaiyekan was referring to the gruesome killings through crucifixion and beheading of Christians in IS-controlled territories, including a 12-year-old boy on October.
Speaking before 15,000 delegates from 71 countries attending the 51st International Eucharistic Congress here, Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, said there should be respect for religious symbols.
“In our modern day world, where a lot is said about respecting religious symbols,” Onaiyekan said, “is it not most terrible that some Islamic nations, for example Saudi Arabia, still practice the execution of condemned people by crucifixion, especially Christians, as a sign of the worst humiliation? “
“We have heard of violent riots and killings for alleged disrespect of the book of the Koran,” he added. “Those who want their religious symbols to be respected ought to respect the religious symbols of others.”
Onaiyekan also criticized Charlie Hebdo, the French magazine that lampooned Mohammad the Prophet and Islam.
In January 2015, the office of the satirical weekly was attacked by gunmen with ties to IS and killed 11 of the staffers.
Onaiyekan, said the Eucharistic rites were a memorial to the crucifixion and sacrifice of Christ.
“The cross as an instrument of execution had existed before the time of Jesus and many people had been crucified before Jesus,” the Nigerian prelate said. “Since He died on the cross, what had been until then a symbol of a shameful death has become a great symbol of the glory of Christ in His glorious crucifixion.”
Onaiyekan noted that IS extremists had used crucifixion to kill and wipe out Christian communities.
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