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CERAO-RECOWA: The Church in Africa must welcome, protect, promote and integrate



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Nigerian Jesuit priest, Fr. Ikechi Ikena of the Holy See’s Migration and Refugees Section at the Dicastery for Integral Human Development has invited West African Bishops to arm themselves, in the pastoral care of migrants and displaced persons, with the four action verbs of Pope Francis, which are: “To welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.”

Cédric Mouzou, SJ – Vatican City

In his intervention at the Plenary Assembly of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa, CERAO-RECOWA, being held in Ouagadougou -Burkina Faso, Father Ikena began by recalling the biblical context of migration with humankind’s first parents, Adam and Eve. “Human mobility seems to be a consequence of the fall of our first parents who became migrants after being expelled from their home for disobedience,” said the Nigerian Jesuit.

Referring to a recent message of Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the Archbishop of Abuja in Nigeria, Fr. Ikena said that the best way to curb migration was to improve things in the countries of origin.

Improve living conditions for young people

“Migrants, most of whom are young, are not an abstract set of ideas, but real people with real lives, all created by God,” said the priest. He regretted the living conditions of young migrant victims of abuse who are forced to leave because of the precariousness of life in their respective countries.

Fr. Ikena endorsed an interview on 5 May 2019 in which the Archbishop of Abuja blamed the Nigerian government for the massive departure of the youth. The Archbishop noted that the reasons that make the land unlivable for young people were “the disobedience of the rulers to the commandments of God, their personal sins and the sins of the institutions they have created to serve their personal interests,” Cardinal Onaiyekan was quoted as saying.

The Church will be judged on the character of the care she gives to migrants

The Church has a role to play. Migration whether voluntary or irregular has become a human phenomena. Father Ikena recalled that God did not abandon humankind to its destiny after the fall of Adam and Eve. On the contrary, God has continued to protect humanity. With this argument, Fr. Ikena invited the Church in West Africa, “to manifest the character of God, by not abandoning migrants in their vulnerabilities.”

According to the Jesuit priest, the responsibility of the Church is twofold: It must accompany migrants at every stage of their migration. On the other hand, the Church must also continuously challenge and urge the leaders of countries whose decisions and actions make their countries uninhabitable for their young people. Father Ikena drew the Bishops’ attention to the fact that to perform these roles exceptionally, the Church herself must be irreproachable. Migrants, he said, are part of the Lord’s flock. And “the Church will be judged on the character and extent of care she provides to its most vulnerable of herds, such as migrants.” The question that resurfaces is this: “How can the Church, as a family of God in Africa, accompany millions of vulnerable young people on the move?” Father Ikena invited the Bishops to find the answer in the four words of Pope Francis: Welcome, Protect, Promote and Integrate.

The Church in Africa must “Welcome, Protect, Promote and Integrate.”

In a difficult socio-political context characterised by abuse of power and bad governance, Fr. Ikena invited the West African Bishops to inculcate a welcoming spirit in their communities for migrants and displaced persons.  Since we cannot welcome a person we have never known, the Church in West Africa must learn to identify and accompany young people “who are experiencing rapid and difficult transformations.” The youth ministry, Fr. Ikena said, has “the unique opportunity to listen with an open mind to the rhythms of the hearts of our young people who naively contemplate migration.”


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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes



Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship



Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has urged the clergy, religious and lay faithful to be trustworthy, transparent, selfless and generous stewards in the discharge of their duties in the Church, following the way of Jesus.

Archbishop Filipazzi made the call during the opening ceremony of the maiden General Assembly of the Abuja Archdiocese, which was held on at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Friday September 4.

The General Assembly, with the theme “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization,” saw Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and the laity gathered together to discuss means of strengthening the faith of God’s people amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.

Addressing participants, Archbishop Filipazzi said that “an administrator is neither a master nor a slave who cannot decide anything, but one who is given a responsibility by the Master.” In this light, the faithful are called to be “true administrators of divine mystery” entrusted to them by Our Lord, according to their varying roles in the Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio also said “differences must not lead to division,” as everyone, though different, must strive for unity since there is no room for divisions in the body of Christ.

Archbishop Filipazzi, speaking on the upsurge in violence in northern Nigeria in a Vatican News interview on 29 August, had also called for shunning divisions along religious and ethnic lines.

Rather, he appealed for “general respect of the law and general intervention of the government” in the violent attacks which have claimed many lives and caused massive material damage.

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St Joseph’s Hall of Faith”



Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St. Joseph's Hall of Faith”

The Catholic Men Organization, CMO, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish Owerri, joined their counterparts in the Archdiocese to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, August 30.

The celebration earlier scheduled for May 10 this year was differed because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The occasion began with a Pontifical Mass presided over by His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri cum Parish Priest of the Cathedral Parish.

In his homily, Archbishop Obinna called on Christians to live a life of witnessing to Christ at all times. He said that the zeal to preach the word of God is like a fire that burns inside the heart of a Christian and will not abate until one bears witness to Christ. This, he said, must be done in the course of our daily lives, in our places of work, in our families, among our friends, through living life that is Christ-like.

He congratulated the Christian fathers on the occasion and appealed for support to enable them complete their building project in no distant time. His Grace also appreciated the performance of the CMO choir during the Mass.

The theme for the parish celebration is: “Catholic Men As Spiritual Heads of the Domestic Church: Implications in the Family.”

The parish CMO used the celebration to raise fund for the roofing of their building project named: “St. Joseph’s Hall of Faith.”

In his brief remark at the occasion, the Parish CMO President, Arc. Anthony Emeka Ozoude said, “We have been able to complete the block work,” adding that, “the task before us now is to put a roof on the building.”

He therefore made a passionate appeal for generous donations from members and well wishers, assuring donors that every kobo donated will be prudently applied for the purpose.

Arc. Ozoude recalled that early this year, the parish CMO executive identified a three-prong programme of focus, namely: Membership revalidation, Debt recovery and Fund raising for the roofing.

He advised members not to sit on the fence anymore as there is so much to gain spiritually, morally and even intellectually from participating in the CMO activities both at the parish, stations and prayer groups levels.

“The committed members who attend our programmes regularly have discovered this and have remained resolute in their participation,” he said.

Activities marking this year’s celebration included Retreat, visit to ailing members in their homes, thanksgiving Mass blessing of the mini altars for the 5 prayer groups of CMO etc.

Arc. Ozoude thanked in a special way, Archbishop Obinna, the Cathedral Administrator and priests working in the Cathedral for their support. He also commended the various stations and prayer groups for their cooperation.

The CMO president acknowledged the good work and sacrifice of the Planning Committee, headed by Dr. Uche Ukozor and thanked them for a job well done.

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