Re-evaluating the place of Catholic Knights in the fight for a sane human society (Corruptio Optima Pessima)
It is true that the Church has the tools for critical analysis and the courage needed to propel good decisions to its logical conclusions (when co-responsibility is at play), we, however disagree with Celestine Mbaegbu who maintained that; “the real texture of the Nigerian state today unquestionably demands active participation of the Church in partisan politics.” This is because it will definitely mar the faith of the believing community in a country with multi-party system like ours. And we point out here that this must have been one of the reasons why the Church does not allow clerics to engage in partisan politics as the 1983 Code in Canon 287 subsection two writes: “clerics are not to play an active role in political parties or in directing trade unions, in the judgment of the competent ecclesiastical authority; this is required for the defence of the Church or to promote the common good.” The Church’s activity here rests on building good conscience in both the faithful who participate in partisan Politics and the common voters who are meant to choose according to the right dictates of their conscience.
In establishing such arms that monitor election in various states (e.g. the Justice Development and Peace Commission and other election monitoring agencies), a significant step has been made by the Church in the area of politics. The major effect of this could be gleaned from what happened in the Imo State during the 2011 election. It is true that we have many Catholics who are holding one political post in the country or the other but it seems they severe their religious inclination from their political appointments and this has really dealt blows to the social and economic well-being of the populace. If we should go by what we have been discussing all these while, we know that if our lay people can develop a heart of a good working relationship with the clergy, effective reconstruction of the society can be achieved. We note here that all the people mentioned by Kukah in the citation above did not accomplish what they did solitarily.
My work and my faith
it is quite unfortunate that many of us have chosen to serve two masters at the same and definitely our faith has suffered it to its fullest. Our Lord Jesus made it emphatically clear to his disciples that; “you cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). Most times our actions in our work place puts us at odds with the Christian belief, this inflicts serious injury on our faith. The problem here is that most of us are headstrong in immersing ourselves in the corruption in our places of work. Here we recall the statement of Anthony de Mello; “The one who sins is a man, the one who repents of his sin is a saint, the one who boasts of his sins is a devil” In this stance we point to the “this-is-the-way-it-has-always-been-done” syndrome which has become the monster for effective change in the status quo. I am a Christian not just in the Church but am called to be more Christian — a representative of Christ per se — in my work place. My faith must reflect in my work so that, lex credendi (the way we believe), lex orandi (the way we pray), and !ex vivendi (the way we live) will have an equal correlation.
In a society where the Church is harnessing all her abilities in making the gospel message translated into the day to day running of their activities, social injustice, moral decadence, envy, jealousy and other social vices will be all a thing of the past. In this case, the Church keeps an eye on the society through her members condemning all that makes man to be in harm’s way towards actualizing his destiny and upholding all that contribute to human dignity and objective development of the society. It. becomes a traumatizing situation we learn that those who are meant to be the custodians of the faith that are in public offices give consent to laws and proceedings that tend to mock the Christian faith. The catechism of the Catholic Church condemning this acts notes that; “they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to ‘social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the commandments difficult and practically impossible. ”In the light of the above we can see why the world has raised eyebrows to the Ireland for helping to destroy the moral backbone of Christianity which they struggle with their blood to build The world has become more critical of the Christian religion with the passage of the Bill on homosexuality by a cabinet that is said to be 70 per cent Catholics in the most recent time in the United States of America. Worst is the contradiction abounding in the position of Obama regarding same sex marriage in 2003 and his present position. How do we look at it when we see a knight at the fore front in encouraging electoral malpractice, examination malpractice, students sexual molestation, various forms of extortion, embezzlement, lack of commitment to one’s duty, and other anti-social behaviours that has bedevilled our community in recent times? Are we aware of the many volumes it speaks about the Church in its most negative sense?
We cannot succumb to the defeatist approach in our fight against corruption just as Awolowo will want us to. It is good that we look at such great optimistic leaders like George Washington who affirmed to the contrary by calling a spade a spade when he said “The politician who steals is worse than a thief. He is a fool. With the grand opportunities all around for a man with political pull, there’s no excuse for stealing a cent.” We can begin by working on ourselves individually. We must learn to be ashamed of our conduct that does not speak well of our religion. The major problem with the average Nigerian politician and others who are highly placed is the lack of the sense of shame. It was Jonathan Swift who said “I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.” When we look at the audacity and impunity with which we immerse ourselves in corruption in its various forms we begin to ask whether the average Nigerian man is congenitally corrupt or accidentally corrupt. If the former is the case, there is need for sanatio in radice (a healing from the root) and this calls to the need for genuine conversion into our faith, but if then it is the latter, all we need do is to do mea culpa and make a firm resolve in the pursuit of our Christian faith especially as the models and custodians of the Catholic faith.
Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Alex Okoro, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church Emekuku delivered this lecture to the knights of St. Mulumba, Owerri Metropolitan Council recently.