COMMUNIQUE OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF IBADAN ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE MEETING AT ST. PAUL PASTORAL CENTRE AAWE, OYO DIOCESE 2OTH - 21ST AUGUST 2012
By THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF IBADAN ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE
1. Gratitude to God
We give thanks to God for the growth of the Catholic Church and of the work of evangelization in our Province. We note with joy the services rendered by our various educational, health and social institutions helping to sustain the less-privileged among our people in the present and forming our youth in preparation for a better future. We pay tribute to our Priests, Religious and Lay people who remain faithful in their commitment to work for a better world and for the attainment of the kingdom of heaven. May God Almighty replenish their strength and make their work in His vineyard, productive and fulfilling. Amen. We felicitate with the Bishop, Priests, Religious and the Faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Ilorin as they celebrate 100 years of Catholicism in that diocese with the Grand Finale coming up on 31st August 2012. We congratulate the Catholic Bishop of Ilorin, Most Reverend Ayomaria Atoyebi on his 20th Episcopal Anniversary. May the celebrations bring His Lordship and the Faithful of Ilorin Diocese much peace, joy and fulfilment . Amen.
2. The Year of Faith
We receive with joy the declaration by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI of a Year of Faith due to begin on 11 October 2013. The Year of Faith seeks to deepen our love and desire for the sublime things of heaven and spur us to create a better world, ruled by the fear of God and his commandment. We call on all Clergy, Religious and Laity to fully participate in the celebration at national, diocesan, and parish levels in order that all necessary blessings of the year may be derived. We also commend and encourage the preparations for the forthcoming Pastoral and Eucharistic Congresses in the nation and in our dioceses. The National Congresses are scheduled to hold in Abuja in November 2012, while the Diocesan Congresses are scheduled locally. We declare these congresses to be opportunities for us as church to reflect on our rich Deposit of Faith, our current situation as church and to chart together, in an atmosphere of prayer, the future path for the mission of the Church. We invite all our faithful to study and discuss the documents issued on these events, prayerfully prepare for them and participate in them to the best of their ability.
3. The Urgent Work of Reconciliation
Violent and tragic deaths, bloodshed and destruction, robberies and ethnic clashes seem to have become the order of the day in our dear nation. We pay tribute to all who put their lives at risk to protect other Nigerians and curb violence and pray for the souls of all who have died in the process. We pray fervently for our nation and continue to work for an end to this disastrous situation. We recommit ourselves to the work of dialogue, reconciliation, justice and peace which define the fresh agenda for evangelization for the Church in Africa. We urge everyone to study the Post-Synodal Exhortation of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI entitled: Africae Munus: In Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. It is the outcome of the Second Synod of African Bishops which took place in 2009. The issues raised in the theme are germane to the reality of Nigeria today, given our current, pervasive state of insecurity, violence and injustice. If Nigeria is to be saved from further decay, violence and bloodshed, Nigerians, before anyone else, must be in the frontline for finding solutions to the crisis through a recommitment to reconciliation and justice.
4. Nigeria A Nation On the Brink
The tragic Boko Haram insurgence which continues to spread death, mayhem and destruction in Nigeria is merely the most visible manifestation of our country\\`s burden of political chaos and confusion. Added to our huge backlog of unresolved murders and intrigues, now are very serious allegations of corruption against eminent Nigerians and even government officials in the current administration at various levels up to the very top. Government has so far not only failed to seriously investigate and prosecute most of these allegations but is now seen by many to even be shielding certain individuals and interests from prosecution. This fact greatly detracts from the credibility of the transformation agenda of the current administration and further demoralizes our fractious nation. We strongly appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan and his administration to shed the current toga of timidity and foot-dragging and courageously confront the monsters of corruption and insecurity as a panacea to unemployment, crime and despondency in the land.. We ask Nigerians to fully support such a process with all the objectivity and sacrifice required.
5. The Nature of True Religion
Owing to the chaos generated by Boko Haram activities in Nigeria some analysts have concluded that religion, rather than be a solution, is actually part of Nigeria\\`s problem. We declare that religion, the submission of man to a divine being higher than himself, is wholesome and desirably for humanity. Without it, the world would become a chaotic jungle, ruled only by man\\`s bestial whims and caprices. We call on all religious leaders and people, Christians and Muslims to save religion from ridicule by preaching justice, tolerance and dialogue to their adherents at every opportunity. We commend many Muslim and Christians leaders who are recently raised a strong voice in this regard. Let such leaders and people put heads together to seek concrete ways of dealing with the current security challenge in Nigeria especially the evils perpetrated in the name of religion. Prevention is not only better but also cheaper than cure.
6. Our Humble Contribution and Challenge
As Catholics, we humbly recommend to all, our strategy of staunch commitment to peaceful coexistence and mutual respect for everyone, irrespective of religion or class. In all modesty, we accommodate in our institutions, schools, clinics and hospitals, adherents of all faiths. We provide employment and training for all, irrespective of religion. We try to relate to others at all times with fairness, and with respect for their rights and dignity without discrimination. We also invest in creating platforms for dialogue and interaction among adherents of all religions at programmes and forums organised by our church Agencies. All these are not without resistance but we persist with great hope. knowing that this is the only option for the future. All these are also backed up by goodwill greetings and messages from His Holiness, the Pope at every occasion of Muslim festivals. Given these facts, we firmly declare that true religion promotes the love of God and fellowmen and respect for the rights of all and challenge others to openly clarify their stand..
7. Vision for a Greater Nigeria
As preachers of the Good News we Bishops have no choice but to continue to believe in the possibility of a greater Nigeria freed from chaos, anarchy and doom. For this to happen, every Nigerian must have a change of heart and be honest about accommodating and respecting one another. It is in this regard that we call for an \\`outbreak of peace\\` and sincerely wish all our Muslim brethren and all a happy, peaceful, post-Ramadan celebrations. God will still come to the aid of his people: \\`Yes.... behold I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen\\` (Joel 2:19).
Most Rev. Felix Alaba Job
Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province Bishops\\` Conference
Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye
Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province Bishops\\` Conference
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