The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, state governors, security agencies and other stakeholders to tackle the menace of ethnic tensions, economic disparities, insecurity, abuse of religious loyalties and other social vices affecting the country.
Speaking Sunday in Abuja during his Homily at the Opening Mass of 2nd Plenary of the CBCN at the Holy Trinity Church, Maitama, entitled “Mending strained relationships through dialogue and forgiveness”, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Grace, Most Rev Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, called on Nigerians to reach out across ethnic, political, and religious lines to bridge the gaps that have been created; to heal wounds and to reconcile differences.
He said: “Our society is still grappling with divisions fueled by ethnic tensions, economic disparities and very sadly, the abuse of religious loyalties. Nigerians are therefore called to reach out across ethnic, political, and religious lines to bridge the gaps that have been created; to heal wounds and to reconcile differences.
“Today, there are many victims of violent conflicts; people sacked from their homes due to the nefarious activities of terrorists, bandits, kidnappers. Only three days ago in Sabon Kawu, Abuja, 15 people were kidnapped, including a major seminarian, and still unaccounted for, and the next day, bandits burnt the parish house in Fadan Kamantan of Kafanchan Catholic Diocese, with Nanmaan Stephen, a major seminarian, trapped and killed inside. Our faith remains a guiding light just as the Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 145:18 that “the Lord is near to all who call upon him.”
“Our faith, however, should never be an excuse for being passive. It should empower us to act positively, seeking solutions to the multidimensional problems our nation faces. We must try to reach out to those in need, as we remember the words of our Lord: “Whatever you did to one of these least brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:40).
“For now, those many brothers and sisters, who are hungry, sick, feeling very insecure and quite frustrated, badly need anyone who can just offer a glimmer of hope. As the word “palliative” once again makes a return to the repertoire of our national vocabulary, we call on leaders at all levels to ensure that what is meant for the hungry poor truly reaches the hungry poor.”
On the inflammatory remarks by leaders across various religious divides, particularly on the social media, the body said such would not benefit anyone and therefore urged for calm.
“I call on Nigerians to face the real problems that confront us and stop firing religious missiles, using religion as a weapon of violence, or even taking life at the slightest provocation. Those religious leaders who make inflammatory statements in videos on social media should be cautioned by the appropriate authorities. Our Christian and Islamic bodies rather than engaging in offensive or defensive rhetorics or threats should always preach the need for holiness, peaceful coexistence, compassion, good neighbourliness, rather than encouraging the use of verbal or physical violence.”