“Most of our problems are caused by the reckless utterances and activities of extremist fringe groups on both sides of the divide,” John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, said in a written speech.
Nigeria has been rocked in recent years by a series of bloody attacks by Muslim fundamentalists against Christians and viceversa.
“Since our two religions now embrace a major portion of humanity, we have a shared responsibility to work for peace and harmony,” he said.
“We have to find ways of reconciling our sense of world mission with our God-given duty to live in peace,” he said, adding: “We have to work together to make sure that the fanatics do not dictate the agenda of our mutual relations.”
The archbishop was supposed to deliver his speech at a synod of 262 bishops from around the world called to discuss efforts to reinvigorate the Catholic faith but was not able to do so and copies were distributed to journalists.
“Despite the impression often given by the world media, I want to stress that Christians in Nigeria do not see themselves as being under any massive persecution by Muslims,” he said.
“We have not done too badly in living peacefully together in the same nation. We believe we have learnt some lessons which may be useful for the rest of the world on Christian-Muslim relations,” he added. – Sapa-AFP