English Africa Service – Vatican City
The Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) was held at the Divine Mercy Pastoral Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State from 11 September to 20 September 2019.
Attacks are ill-advised
In their Communique issued at the end of the plenary, the Bishops particularly criticise those within the Church who are attacking Pope Francis.
“The Holy Father Pope Francis has come under attacks in recent times. Of more serious concern are the attacks coming from some higher levels of the Church in some parts of the world. As members of the Episcopal College, of which the Holy Father is the Head, we regard these attacks as the proverbial ill wind that blows no one any good, bearing in mind that there are other more legitimate and traditionally tested avenues of expressing our opinions to the Holy Father,” the Bishops said.
The Roman Pontiff is the successor of St Peter
According to the Nigerian prelates, “To be able to lead the flock of Christ in the right direction in a world filled with many contradicting and confusing voices, we as a College must speak with one voice. We, therefore, recognise that ‘The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the Bishops and of the whole company of the faithful’ (Vat II, Lumen Gentium 23). We reaffirm our faith in and commitment to the Pontificate of the Holy Father Pope Francis. Consequently, we pledge our loyalty and availability to him in the exercise of his Petrine office, and we promise to continue to cooperate with him fully in the discharge of his divine mandate as the Pastor of the Universal Church (cf. Code of Canon Law, Cann. 331, 334),” reads the Communique.
Bishops condemn Xenophobia in South Africa
The Nigerian Bishops further condemn the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
The Bishops praised their counterparts, the South African Bishops, for speaking out prophetically and clearly as well as for their solidarity with victims of xenophobia.
“We denounce the horrendous xenophobic attacks in South Africa in which many non-nationals, including Nigerians, lost their lives and/or have their property looted and/or forced to flee the country for their dear lives. We condemn the unfortunate reprisals on perceived South African investments in some part of Nigeria, as two wrongs do not make a right! We pray for the peaceful repose of those who lost their lives and sympathise with those who have suffered bereavement, injuries and heavy losses,” said the Bishops.
Continued Insecurity in Nigeria
The Bishops also speak out about the continued insecurity, disregard for human life prevalent in Nigerian society. They call on the government to prioritise security and the stability of the nation. Part of the solution, according to the Bishops, lies in the creation of an enabling environment for meaningful development.