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Jonathan, Obama Visit Pope

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It was a busy time for His Holiness Pope Francis following the visits of two heads of state recently.

President Jonathan, President Obama visited Pope Francis recently.

President Jonathan, President Obama visited Pope Francis recently.

First to storm the Vatican was Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan who was accompanied by his wife Patience and other top government officials. That was on Saturday, March 22.

On Thursday, March 27, President Barak Obama of the United States of America took his turn. Both heads of State were visiting Pope Francis for the first time.

Reports say President Jonathan and‎ Pope Francis held extensive discussion on Nigeria’s position on same-sex marriage which was recently outlawed in the country.

The  Executive Secretary of Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission, Kennedy Opara, disclosed this to journalists at the Holy Sea after President Jonathan’s audience with the Pope as well as his tour of the Vatican City.

Opara, according to the report, said the president used the opportunity to state Nigeria’s position on same sex-marriage while the Pope commended Jonathan’s effort in tackling the various challenges facing the country.

Nigerian residents in Italy were also in the Vatican City to join President Jonathan in the Papal audience.

President Barack Obama’s first visit to Pope Francis on Thursday March 27 was filled with much symbolism, with the two exchanging gifts and smiles amid pomp and circumstance at the apostolic palace.

Topics discussed, according to reports includes: religious freedom, conscientious objection and immigration reform.

It was the second visit to a pope for the president, who previously visited Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

Analysts and observers before Thursday’s meeting had speculated over whether Pope Francis might bring up sticky issues during the event, like the U.S. bishops’ opposition to parts of the federal health care reform law or Francis’ own reservations about free-market capitalism or use of the U.S. military abroad.

In a statement following the meeting, the Vatican press office said it had been a “cordial” event with a particular focus on “current international themes” and “questions of particular relevance for the Church” in the United States.

Discussion, the press office said, included, “the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform.”

Arriving at the Vatican with his motorcade at about 10:15 a.m. Rome time, Obama was led by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the pontifical household, through the Vatican’s frescoed loggia to his meeting with the pope.

“Wonderful meeting you,” the president greeted Francis. “Thank you, sir, thank you.”

“It is a great honor. I’m a great admirer,” Obama continued. “Thank you so much for receiving me.”

The pope and president then sat down together for a private meeting which lasted  for 54 minutes, an unusually long meeting by papal standards. Afterward, the two exchanged gifts. Obama gave Francis a custom-made seed chest featuring fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House garden.

In return, the pope gave the president two medallions, one of which symbolized solidarity and peace between the northern and southern hemispheres.

Francis also gave Obama a copy of his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”).

Obama was joined in his visit by Secretary of State John Kerry, a Catholic, and Ken Hackett, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

The president had earlier lavished praise on the Pope, telling the newspaper Corriere della Sera: “The Holy Father has inspired the peoples of the entire world – and me too – with his commitment to social justice and his message of love and compassion, especially for people who are the poorest and most vulnerable among us.”

Obama added: “He doesn’t just proclaim the gospel. He lives it.”

He said: “We know that, given his great moral authority, when the pope speaks, his words have an enormous weight.”

While skipping a question about their differences over abortion and contraception – “one of the qualities I most admire in the Holy Father is his courage in not mincing his words” – the president tried to keep the focus on their common interest in tackling poverty and hunger.

 

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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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

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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”

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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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