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While the Nigerian government negotiates with the Islamic militant group Boko Haram for the release of 200 abducted schoolgirls, some church leaders in the country's conflict-ridden north are expressing doubts about any impending resolution.
Nearly two weeks ago, the government announced a cease-fire with the militants. It set Oct. 24 as the date for the girls' release, but that failed to happen.
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The Nigerian bishops oppose gay marriage but do not support the criminalization of homosexuals, said Nigerian Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama in Rome while attending the Synod of Bishops on the family.
The media misunderstood the position of the Nigerian church, he said. "The Catholic church respects all human beings. And we believe that we are all created in the image and likeness of God," he said. But for cultural and religious reasons, "we Africans believe that marriage is between a man and a woman."
"That does not mean that we hate people of that orientation," he added.
Africans "have come of age," said Nigerian Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama. "We should be allowed to think for ourselves."
Church leaders in West Africa are raising concerns over sporadic violence that has killed one of their own and frustrated efforts to stem the Ebola epidemic.
The violence took a dangerous turn last week in a remote village in southeast Guinea, when fearful villagers killed eight members of a disinfection and awareness team, including an evangelical church pastor.
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Five months after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls in Nigeria's Borno State, the Islamic extremist group has begun occupying churches in the country's northeastern region, church officials there said.
The militant group, which church leaders and analysts view as an African variation of the Islamic State, is also beheading men, forcing Christian women to convert to Islam and taking them as wives, officials said.
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