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President Michael D Higgins has denied linking the slaughter of 40 people at a Catholic church in Nigeria to climate change.

More than 126 people were injured in the attack on St Francis Church in Owo region of Ondo’s Catholic diocese on Sunday, June 5th, which Nigerian officials have connected to the Islamic State West Africa Province group.

“The President’s remarks on climate change related to the misery of pastoral peoples in the region, and the President made no relation in his statement between climate change and the attack itself,” Mr Higgins’ spokesman told The Irish Times.

“The President has categorically condemned the attack on St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Nigeria, and has conveyed his special dismay that such an atrocity should occur in a house of worship,” he stated.
According to the spokesman, Mr Higgins recognized “the long connections between Ireland and the diocese of Ondo and once again offers his deepest condolences and solidarity to the families of those who lost their lives in this horrific, indefensible action, as well as all those impacted by the attack.”

The Catholic Bishop of Ondo diocese Jude Ayodeji Arogundade condemned climate-change references in President Higgins’ statement condemning the massacr on June 7th as “incorrect and far-fetched” in a weekend statement on Facebook.

“In our situation, alluding to some type of climate change politics is utterly unacceptable,” the bishop stated. “Those who are attempting to use this awful occurrence to portray any kind of ideological agenda, to desist from such opportunism,” he said.

President Higgins issued a statement last week condemning the attack and expressing his “deepest condolences” to the families of those killed and injured.

“Any attempt to scapegoat pastoral peoples, who are among the first victims of climate change, is a matter of particular condemnation, as does any attempt to blame such an attack in a house of worship.” For too long, Africa’s disregard of food security issues has led to a catastrophe that is now having internal and regional consequences based on struggles and ways of life.”

“The solidarity of us all, as peoples of the globe, is owed to all those afflicted not just by this dreadful occurrence, but also in the struggle by the most vulnerable, who have been inflicted with the repercussions of climate change,” he said.

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