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By Valkyrie Armstrong

07/23/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Last week, ICC reported on two Catholic priests kidnapped in Kaduna State, Nigeria, on Friday, July 15. Unfortunately, ICC has since received news that one of the two Catholic priests was murdered that same day. 

The priests, Father John Mark Cheitnum and Father Denatus Cleopas, were kidnapped from Christ the King Catholic Church last Friday around 6 PM. Father Denatus Cleopas was able to escape the kidnappers, but Father John Mark didn’t make it out. His murder was discovered on Tuesday, July 19, not far from the place the priests were abducted. 

Father Mark’s death is a great loss to the community as he was parish priest, director of communications of the diocese, and Chairman of the Association of Nigeria. 

The Chancellor of the Nigerian Diocese, Father Emmanuel Uchechukwu Okolo, announced that the priest’s funeral will be held on July 21 and has requested two days of the morning. Father Okolo has called for everyone to pray and “refrain from taking the laws into their hands.” 

The affiliation of the kidnappers is still unknown, but it is clear that abductions and killings of priests have been on the rise. According to a Catholic nonprofit, Aid to the Church in Need, approximately seven priests were kidnapped in Nigeria in July alone. Since the start of 2022, 20 Nigerian priests have been abducted. 

Please keep Father Mark’s family and community in your prayers. 

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