Paul Samasumo – Vatican City
Notwithstanding the many security challenges Nigerian people and pastoral agents are undergoing, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of the Benin Archdiocese and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) is encouraging Nigerians to celebrate Christmas.
In his Christmas message to the Nigerian people, Archbishop Akubeze has urged them not to give in to despair but to celebrate Christmas gladly.
In the face of many security challenges
“Many Nigerians both Christians and Muslims have condemned the invasion of innocent people’s farmlands by herdsmen. Some of our people have questioned what is the need to celebrate when some of our priests, consecrated men and women are kidnapped while going about their pastoral work? A significant number of our lay faithful have also been victims of these crimes. Sadly, though, some have lost their lives during this terrible ordeal which is becoming too frequent in Nigeria. How do we celebrate Christ the King of Peace when some of our brothers and sisters in northern Nigeria and, especially in the northeastern part are constantly being attacked unprovoked? How do we celebrate when we have witnessed many mass burials of our people killed by Islamic fundamentalists? How do we celebrate when our Churches and Mosques come under attack; and soldiers are being killed? How do we celebrate under these conditions?” Archbishop asks.
A reason to celebrate
Archbishop Akubeze has called on all Nigerians to place their ultimate hope in God.
“We celebrate because we do not place our hopes in mere mortals. Ours is not going to come from our politicians. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth,” the Archbishop said.
Keep partisan politics away from the pulpit
The President of the Nigerian Bishops’ Conference has further reiterated the recent directive of the Bishops to pastoral agents to keep politics away from the pulpit.
“It is unfortunate, that some people in the Church are using the Church for political pronouncements. The pulpit is meant for the proclamation of the message brought to us by the Infant Jesus. Christ himself avoided getting into secular politics….No religious body should set out solely to promote (a particular) political agenda,” Akubeze said.
In February 2019, Nigeria head to the polls in a nationwide general election.