Priest Abducted in Nigeria Released

The Sokoto Diocese said June 3 that Father Keke, 75, is receiving medical treatment.

Father Joe Keke, 75, was released after spending two weeks in captivity on June 3.
Father Joe Keke, 75, was released after spending two weeks in captivity on June 3. (photo: Courtesy of Father Chris Omotosho via CNA)

Father Joe Keke, who was kidnapped along with slain Father Alphonsus Bello when a parish of the Diocese of Sokoto was attacked last month, has been released, the diocese said on Thursday.

Father Chris Omotosho, communications director for the Sokoto Diocese, said June 3 that Father Keke, 75, is receiving medical treatment.

St. Vincent Ferrer parish was attacked by armed bandits May 20. The corpse of Father Bello, who was 33, was found the following day.

Father Bello was buried June 1

“We are here to pray for the repentance and conversion of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes,” Archbishop Matthew Ndagoso of Kaduna said in his homily at the burial ceremony.

He added: “Pray that God will give the victims of these criminal activities and their loved ones the grace to forgive so that they do not become victims twice.”

The archbishop also called on members of the congregation to forgive the perpetrators.

“Painful as it is, if we are not to remain victims forever, we have to take the right step moving forward, namely, forgive those who have done this to us even if we do not know them,” he said.

Those who practice forgiveness become “true disciples of our Master, who did not only pray for the forgiveness of his executioners but also made excuses for them,” he said.

“He prayed: ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,’” Archbishop Ndagoso said. “The murderer of Father Alphonsus and many others like them do not know what they do.”

He continued: “We cannot talk about genuine forgiveness, reconciliation and peace without first of all working for justice and fair play for all."

“A situation where equal citizens are treated unequally because of ethnic, religious, political and social affiliation does not augur well for peace and peaceful coexistence.”