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Bishops of the Catholic Church in Nigeria have emphasized piety and respect for ecclesial authority as necessary virtues in the life of every Catholic faithful. This assertion was contained in the communiqué issued by the bishops at the end of their Second Plenary for the year 2013, held recently at the Double K Resort, GRA, Otukpo, Benue State.

The communiqué signed by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama and Bishop William Avenya, President and Secretary of the Conference respectively, the bishops reflected on the commitment to Catholic priesthood and affirmed “the commitment to consistently pledge our unalloyed loyalty and obedience to the Holy Father.”

Expressing deep concern about the situation in Ahiara Diocese, the Bishops remarked: “We regret and condemn the attitude of those priests in Ahiara Diocese who rejected their new Bishop. We consider their attitude an affront to the Holy Father who has the sole prerogative of appointing Bishops.”

While calling on the priests to review their position, “recant and accept in love their Shepherd, Most Rev. Ebelechkwu Okpaleke” the bishops also urged all the faithful of the diocese “never to relent in Catholic piety, especially loyalty to the Holy Father and Bishops who are his immediate collaborators in the work of shepherding the Church.”

The Bishops also reiterated the importance of chaplaincies in the country’s tertiary institutions noting their significant role in morally shaping the lives of the students of the institutions. They however condemned the denial of lands to Christians in some existing Universities in some parts of the country for the erection of places of worship.

Pointing out that this denial contributes to the weakening of sound morals in the country’s future leaders, the bishops called on the Government at “Federal and State levels to foster the right of religious freedom by allotting land for places of worship and removing all barriers to land acquisition for de facto citizens of the country.”  

The Bishops also spoke on the celebration of the Year of Faith initiated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in October last year and expressed gratitude to God for the grace and opportunity given to all the faithful to renew their faith and commended the people for the numerous spiritual, catechetical and social activities organized to commemorate the year.

While praying that these activities might yield fruits of peace, charity and reconciliation, the bishops called on the faithful “to continue, even beyond the Year of Faith, to intensify efforts towards the deepening of faith through pilgrimages, retreats, seminars, workshops and vigils, as well as through artistic and literary works.”

They appreciated the first Encyclical by Pope Francis on the Year of Faith titled Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith) and noted the “striking connection between Faith and Light as a guide into the full communion of the sons and daughters of God, made possible by the blood of Jesus and his abiding spirit.” 

The bishops recalled notable events in the Church since their last meeting in Abuja, in February this year. These included: canonical erection of two new dioceses, Episcopal ordinations of new bishops, appointments of Apostolic Administrators for Ahiara and Uyo Dioceses, ordination anniversaries of Archbishops and bishops.

They also mentioned the first graduation ceremony of the Veritas University of Abuja (VUNA) held in April 18 at its temporary campus in Obehie, Imo State. They solicited for the support of the faithful for the movement of the institution to its permanent campus in Bwari, Abuja, before the end of the year. 


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