Catholic Bishops’ Communique
(An Invitation to Action for National Harmony and Peace) – 2
A Communiqué issued at the end of the Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) at Pinnacle Guest Inn and Resort, Sokoto, Sokoto State, 6-14 September 2018.
5. TRYING TIMES FOR THE CHURCH
These are indeed very trying times in the life of the Church. There have been some scandals caused by the clergy as a result of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults in parts of the world. No doubt, these have traumatised many people. Since the beginning of these crises, successive Popes over the years have expressed regret and sorrow. They have also apologized to all those affected. We, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, fully identify with these sentiments and actions of the Popes. We reaffirm our commitment to priestly celibacy and chastity as well as our unity with the universal Church under the Holy Father. As Church, we must see in all these scandals a wakeup call to stand up for the truth and grow stronger in witnessing to the Kingdom of God.
As pastors and leaders of the Christian community, we are committed, more than ever before, to protecting all those entrusted to our pastoral care, especially the weaker ones. To this end, we charge our clergy and religious to be mindful of their obligation to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven (Matt: 19:12, Can. 277, 1).
6. EVENTS IN THE CHURCH
With deep sense of gratitude to God, we announce the Episcopal Ordination of new Bishops in Nigeria. Most Rev. Paul OLAWOORE was ordained Coadjutor Bishop of Ilorin on 13 July 2018 and Most Rev. Ernest OBODO was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Enugu on 31 August 2018. In spite of these moments of joy, we also announce the death of one of us. Most Rev. Joseph BAGOBIRI, Bishop of KAFANCHAN Diocese, was called to eternal glory on 27 February 2018 and was buried on 15 March 2018. May he rest in peace, Amen. We are happy to announce the appointment of a new Secretary General for the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria. He is Rev. Fr. Zachariah SAMJUMI of the Catholic Diocese of Yola. We sincerely thank the outgoing Secretary General, Rev. Fr. Ralph MADU, for the selfless services he rendered during his tenure of office. We ask God to bless him in his future endeavours and to guide the steps of the new Secretary General.
7. NATIONAL INTEGRATION AND PEACE, STILL POSSIBLE
By holding our second plenary meeting for the year in Sokoto, we the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria wish to show that it is still possible for all Nigerians to join hands across religious, ethnic and political divides in order to build one, united and robust Nation that all of us would be proud of.
The warm reception by the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhamadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, as well as the candid interaction with the many traditional and religious leaders who were present at our opening ceremony, testify to the cordial relationship that exists between them and our Brother, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese. We desire that this cordial relationship and mutual understanding become a model for the adherents of all religions in the area and the country at large. This would enable us to collectively build the great Nigeria of our dreams.
8. CONCLUSION: THERE IS POWER IN PRAYER
Our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated the power of prayer during his earthly life. He prayed incessantly, especially, at very decisive and significant moment of his life (Luke 6:12-13; John 17). Following in his footsteps, we direct that our Church at various levels, parishes and families, intensify the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary and practice other forms of devotion to save our country. We direct that we all pray for this intention all through the month of October during the traditional “October Devotion.” Let us continue to say the “Prayer for Nigeria in Distress,” especially as we approach the Election Year. We urge all Nigerians to continue to pray for our nation. It is our firm belief that our collective prayers will never go unanswered. We therefore say to all Nigerians: Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Nigeria intercede for us as we yearn for peace and security. May our Lord Jesus Christ shield us from the wiles of the evil one and calm the troubled storms threatening to devastate our Church and our nation. Amen.
Most Rev. Augustine AKUBEZE
Most Rev. Camillus UMOH
Bishop of Ikot-Ekpene