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South African Catholic Church hopeful after elections



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In South Africa, where the ruling African National Congress has won the General Election, the Catholic Church, that played a prophetic role in the achievement of democracy in the nation, continues to be a pillar in the building of a just society.

By Linda Bordoni

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has led the African National Congress (ANC) to victory in Wednesday’s national election.

However, a drop in its share of the vote underlines the challenge he faces restoring confidence in his party.

With opponents within the ANC and an emboldened far-left opposition party, Ramaphosa may struggle to push through tough reforms and deliver much need reforms in the fight for social justice.

The Parliamentary Liaison Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference  is the official vehicle for contact and dialogue between the Catholic Church in South Africa on the one hand, and the country’s Parliament and government on the other.  It provides an avenue for the Church – as part of civil society – to contribute to debates on issues of public policy, to exert an influence for the common good in areas of political, economic and social concern, and to help shape legislative and policy developments.

It’s director, Father Peter John Pearson, told Linda Bordoni he is hopeful for Ramaphosa’s  renewed mandate and says his team are optimistic thanks to an increased respect for the culture of dialogue.

Father Peter John expressed his hope that a renewed mandate for the President, whom he said, has shown good leadership for the past year that he has been in office.

The people he said, also feel listened to following “the continuing probes that have been very far-reaching into corruption, state capture and all the problems that have afflicted the country over the last 9 or 10 years”, and are hopeful that “they will be brought to the fore and that there will be appropriate punishment for those who are guilty”.

“I think the country is hoping for that: it will restore morale in the country, and economic confidence” he said.

He explained that after a quarter of a century, the people are really hoping that a renewed mandate in different hands and leadership of that ANC will address some of the most deprivations they are subjected to: informal housing, an increase in poverty, poor educational opportunities despite the biggest education budget in Africa.

Father Peter John said he believes that the most important thing for the government that comes in, would be to harness this hope and do something practical with it; implement it in ways that are more far-reaching than all the rhetoric that has so often filled the political space.

The Church enabling dialogue and development

Father Peter John expressed optimism regarding the work he and his team are carrying out for the people of South Africa, saying that he feels empowered: “We find the space and the respect for a culture of dialogue and for platforms that are able to do that, are increasing again and are respected again”.

He said the core work the Catholic Church did to bring people together to discuss policy options, to think of ways forward “is having its own springtime again and we participate in that fully”.

He added that the work the Church does in education and in the house care sector, will absolutely have to continue.

He also highlighted the crucial value of some of the more innovative processes or programmes implemented by small groups that are Church-based or Church funded at local level “around  the cultivation of land, around small scale industrial activity” and expressed his determination that they continue.

“We have got to break the iniquitous cycle of poverty.  At the moment our biggest contribution is to be thought processors – looking how to see how we can best attack these big problems”,  he said.

At the same time, Father Peter John continued, because we believe in subsidiarity, we can continue to give support to the small programmes that  are the ones breaking the cycle of poverty in so many local contexts.

“As Church we are able to speak to both ends of the spectrum and bring those ends of the spectrum into discussion: that’s a positive place to be at the moment”, he said.

Relying on prayers and support of men and women of goodwill

But his gaze also reaches beyond local limitations as, he says, “we rely on the prayers and support of  people who want to see a flourishing of democracy in places where that’s been severely tested”.

It is necessary, he underscores, to strengthen the culture of speaking to power with unbridled integrity.

“I think support for those kinds of initiatives and people, he concludes, is always important, especially from people outside our country”.


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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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