Rome, 6 June 2022 (TDI): The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy expressed shock at the horrific attack that reportedly took more than 50 lives. On the 5th of June, the attack on the Catholic church took place in the Southwestern part of Nigeria.

“I am deeply saddened by the unprovoked attack and killing of innocent people of Owo, worshipping at the St. Francis Catholic Church, today,” the Governor of Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu said.

Gunmen with explosives barged into St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo town in the Ondo State of Nigeria on Sunday, and opened fire, killing at least 50 people.

Nina Shea, a religious freedom expert at Hudson Institute; a think tank and research center in the US, states that “war-like” attacks against Catholics and other Christians are on the rise.

Furthermore, Shea also criticized the Biden administration and Secretary of State Antony Blinken for being “silent” in the face of rising attacks on Christian towns in the North.

Additionally, last year, the US State Department announced the list of countries designated as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC).

However, Nigeria and Afghanistan were among those left off the list, raising grave concerns as religious freedom conditions worldwide deteriorate.

The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) mandates the State Department to identify countries as “Countries of Particular Concern” on a yearly basis.

Furthermore, countries that do not meet the full CPC requirements but involve violations of religious freedom may be included in the Special Watch List. This list is also published by the US State Department.

These designations give the US leverage to levy sanctions and pressure countries to improve their religious freedom circumstances. Pakistan has also included almost the countries listed in CPC.

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