CANONIZATION OF CYPRAIN IWENE TANSI: WHY THE DELAY? (1)
WHY THE TUMULT! Why should one raise an alarm that may cause chaos and violent agitation of mind and feelings, and possible misunderstanding of motivations !! Why is this priest (present writer) raising questions about the ‘so-called canonization of CYRIAN IWENE TANSI?’ Is it his business? Is he bishop or pope? Why even does he worry about the situation of the church in AHIARA/MBAISE or the APPOINTMENT OF NEW BISHOP OF ABA DIOCESE? Is this man (present writer) crazy or is he looking for cheap popularity? What does he gain by delving into contentious matters that do not concern him?? Wow!! What a hell waking up the sleeping dog!
There are many more questions deserving some response or answer. No problem. Answer number one : “None of the above.” Answer number two: “There is no cause for alarm. Our topic is really not a contentious one, though an important one with deep spiritual and religious significance and implications for Igbo, Nigerian, African and the universal church.” We need to calm down and closely look at the issues raised. Surely before an interested reader gets to the end of this write-up, he or she would see the need to openly discuss the topic.
“What is happening? Nearly 18 years since the beatification of Cyprain Michael Iwene Tansi by the Mother Roman Catholic Church , Nigerians (and Igbos in particular), are yet to have one of their brothers beyond finally declared a SAINT !! Let’s take a look at two current examples : POPE JOHN PAUL II, who died 2, April 2005, was beatified 6 years later and canonized (made Saint) 3 years after. MOTHER THERESA OF CALCUTTA , who died 5, September 1997 was beatified 6 years later, and canonized 13 years after. Behold CYPRAIN MICHAEL TANSI (An Igbo Nigerian Cistercian Monk !! Died January 20, 1964, BEATIFIED 34 years ago (22 March 1998). About 18 years today, he has not been declared SAINT. “ Perhaps not too late yet. Why should we be in a hurry? After all, ‘God’s time is the best’. Who are we to question God’s intentions and designs?”
These and many others are among the various reactions that greeted this little portion and introductory part of this write-up when it first appeared on one of the social media a few weeks ago. It is of course expected that in society today, in the modern times, people are free to express their views on issues of various interests that touch our faith and lives. We don’t need to get upset when our views are not taken seriously or even if they are ignored. But we should truly get worried when people argue that we should all keep mute, feel unconcerned or or rather “let the sleeping lie”, when our brothers, sisters and neighbors suffer or feel bad,and we turn our eyes the other way, especially when one kind word from us can help to alleviate their sufferings, restore hope, trust and peace!
OMG!! Where is our Christian faith? Where is Nigeria and the church in the most populous African nation heading to? In most important events and discussions today, Nigeria is expected to take the lead, especially in matters of political, social, cultural and religious interest. To turn our face the other way, or rejoice in other people’s misfortunes, or even wish our brothers and sisters evil, or make mockery of them, is no doubt, UNCHRISTIAN and in fact WICKED to say the least! If one is not interested in the topic(s), or not well informed , or is not a committed CATHOLIC, one does not need to participate in debates that have their foundation in Christian catholic faith. Traditional religionists or atheists don’t need to air their views in topics of this nature, like the canonization of a saint according to the teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic Church . Other religious organizations and non-believers may have their personal and traditional ways of assessing who among their dead members had lived live worthy of emulation. There is no doubt that here we are purely in the realm of deep catholic religious beliefs, teachings and traditions. And these are important to concerned believers.
WHITHER THE CHURCH IN NIGERIA?
But whether it is within the competence of the present writer or not, to raise questions about the present issues under discussion should actually not raise any dust. What should worry any interested contributor at this stage is to what extent our debates would lead to the realization of our goal, namely the happy resolutions of the problems facing us. Any concerned catholic can equally do the same! If our inquiries can provoke further discussions and actions on the present issues they will be wonderful and truly good for the Church in IGBOLAND, NIGERIA and AFRICA in general.
The present writer recommends URGENT ACTION and PEACEFUL PROTESTS if possible towards the early realization of our goals. It is NOT a bad idea. The universal church and the world at large witnessed sometime this year the effects of the placard carrying PROTESTING BIAFRANS or AGITATORS FOR BIAFRAN STATE, before POPE FRANCIS and large crowds of visitors, pilgrims and catholic faithfuls at St Peter’s Square in the Vatican. The Pope was told about the peaceful BIAFRAN protesters and no doubt, the Roman Pontiff recognized their presence .
Large crowds of placard carrying faithfuls regularly continued gathering in Rome at St Peter’s Square right from day one, at the burial of POPE JOHN PAUL II, requesting the canonization of the Polish Pope. Similar Demonstrations and Agitations continued in their fatherland POLAND years after. And their prayers were heard!! The same can be said about MOTHER THERESA OF CALCUTTA and many other formerly and recently canonized saints. Why not Nigeria and Nigerians? Why can’t such stories be told about us? Such peaceful and prayerful missions, agitations or demonstrations are good, legal and Christian and therefore should be recommended and undertaken.
“Time heals”, the ancients say. God listens to our prayers grants solutions to nasty and insurmountable crisis and problems. Resolutions often come when people least expect them. Recently it was reported that the South American nation of COLUMBIA received a sign of possible peaceful resolution of their political crisis which has lasted decades. Bells tolled in churches in big and small cities of Columbia, as multitudes took to the streets in ecstatic frenzy. We were told that former enemies embraced themselves, as government and pro-communist fighters agreed to lay down their arms and return to round table peace talks. What great moments of joy!
If our debates, comments, utterances, peaceful demonstrations, and prayers can help the parties concerned resolve the AHIARA/ MBAISE church crisis, that will be great. If we avoid taking sides and endeavor to pressurize both parties to shield their swords and come to negotiating table, surely peace will reign. Surely bells will toll all over AHIARA MBAISE churches and beyond and wild jubilation so will greet our streets. “Blessed are those who have Jahweh as their God!!”
By Rev. Msgr. Nathaniel I. Ndiokwere