Headline: COMMUNIQUE OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF IBADAN ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE MEETING AT THE POPE JOHN PAUL II PASTORAL CENTRE, ADO-EKITI FROM 11TH TO 12TH AUGUST, 2014Posted on: 2014-08-12
We, Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, comprising Ibadan Archdiocese, Ondo, Ekiti, Ilorin, Oyo and Osogbo Dioceses have held our meeting at the Pastoral Institute, Ado Ekiti from 11th till 12th August 2014. We have prayerfully deliberated on matters of pastoral, spiritual, social and political interest and now conclude with the following communique:
1. The Pallium, of the new Archbishop of Ibadan Province
We thank God Almighty for the event of the imposition of the pallium, the symbol of the authority of the Metropolitan archbishop, on the new Archbishop of Ibadan, Most Reverend Gabriel ‘Leke Abegunrin on the 29th of June 2014 in Rome by His Holiness, Pope Francis. We thank the large Nigerian delegation that witnessed the occasion and pray that the Archbishop’s tenure witness unprecedented pastoral progress in our Province.
2. The Ebola Epidemic.
The Ebola epidemic is a source of worry to all peoples all over the world. We highly commend the government and all others who are doing everything possible to bring it under control. May God rest those who have died in perfect peace and may he heal all who have been infected by the virus. We join our voices to the call for vigilance and caution on the part of all Nigerians in this regard as we cannot be too careful in our bid to stop this international scourge. In this respect, we as Church in Ibadan Province, pending the end of the alert on the Ebola epidemic, hereby direct as follows.
a. That Priests, Religious and other Pastoral Workers collaborate with Doctors and other medical personnel to sensitize and educate our people on the dangers, symptoms and management of the Ebola disease. This should take into consideration the native language of the people for maximum effect and for minimizing superstition and rumours which can do more damage than the disease itself.
b. That the common self-signing with water at the entrance of the Church and other occasions be suspended. This does not preclude the use of Holy Water for other purposes.
c. That the shaking of hands for the Sign of Peace at Mass be suspended, given the risk such contact entails at public celebrations.
d. That priests exercise great caution at sick calls and hospital visitation and on other occasions that necessitate physical contact in the administration of the Sacraments. They should ensure regular washing of the hands after such occasions.
e. That hygienic precautions be taken by priests and altar servers and other pastoral assistants, by all who count the offerings in the Church through the washing of hands, the use of gloves, hand sanitizers and other means necessary.
f. That, given the expediency of the situation, communion in the hand should now be the practice with due and adequate catechesis of the people by competent authorities. The Bishop of each diocese will judge the right timing for this and give other directives and approve other measures considered useful on the local level. All churches should please put this in their bulletins and communications channels until further notice.
3. Elections in Our Province
Since our last meeting elections have been held in two states within our province, namely Ekiti State and the State of Osun. We are particularly grateful that the elections were devoid of rampant bloodshed and criminality for which such an exercise had been notorious in the past. We highly commend those who made personal and corporate commitment and sacrifice to secure peace and tranquility during these elections especially the politicians and their party supporters. With peace we can achieve great things whereas with violence we are bound to lose everything. We urge all winners and losers in the exercise to work together honestly for the progress and development of our land and country. Such collaboration will make a winner of everyone in the game.
4. The Fr. Raphael Fagbohun Saga
We regret the unfortunate incident of Fr Raphael Fagbohun, a catholic priest of the diocese of Ekiti, who claims to have been ordained the first consecrated Bishop of a so-called Old Catholic Church (ROCC-SCOTLAND) in Africa. Fr. Fagbohun, made his declaration publicly on the social media, after having been reprimanded for gross misconduct and abuse of office in his exalted position as the first Catholic Chaplain to the Nigerian Police, a position to which he was appointed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria. For all intents and purposes, his actions and intentions are illegal and sinful. Press statements from the Bishop of his diocese and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria has further clarified this situation. We pray for the repentance and return of Fr. Fagbohun to the church that nurtured him and pray that he would heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to retrace his vagrant path.
5. The Security and Integrity of Nigeria
Nigeria, our country still faces serious security challenges. We note that our government has done a lot to cope with these challenges but the facts on ground show that there is still a lot more to do. We note that more voices have been calling for the division of Nigeria. While identifying with the concerns that have brought such people to this pass, we reiterate that Nigeria is better off united than divided. We plead with those who are in position to act to work for the unity of Nigeria for unity is strength. This must be based on the principles of human rights, justice and respect for the rule of law. We are painfully aware of the effort of some of Nigeria’s international friends to compel our country to compromise moral values in return for security aid. Our country surely needs support in the fight against terrorism but we plead that such requests to compromise our cultural and moral standards be resisted and rejected as immoral and unethical. A people denuded of its moral values is a people on the death row.
6. Pro-Life Issues and the Family Apostolate
We congratulate the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) for organizing the International Conference for the Family and Pro-Life issues in Nigeria in June and commend all the participants at the event. The family today is under great pressure especially from those who vigorously promote the Culture of Death. We reiterate the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death and at every moment in-between. We also assert that to be pro-life is to be pro-Christ and call on all to support efforts to protect human life and the family. We pray for the success of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome and commit our Ecclesiastical Province to hosting in the next few months a seminar/workshop to enlighten and promote the Gospel of life and the family among our people.
7. Prayer for Nigeria at Crossroads:
Many years ago, as Nigeria degenerated to become a country with a myriad of problems, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) composed and proposed to the faithful a prayer entitled “A Prayer for Nigeria in Distress”. Today our country is far from being out of the woods. We urge all our people to persist in fervent prayer for our nation. We strongly re-propose to all our people the 6 month prayer program recently released by the CBCN, for personal, family, parish and community prayer involving the Laity, Religious and the Clergy. Praying the Holy rosary for peace and divine healing is central to this prayer program. Family rosary is scheduled for every Saturday evening and Holy Hour during Eucharistic adoration for the last Sunday of every month in all churches until December. A National Rosary Prayer Pilgrimage and vigil comes up on13th and 14th of November 2014 at the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja. Let us all raise our humble but heartfelt petitions to God in our hearts, churches, chapels of adoration, homes and public spaces. Our merciful God will hear us in his good time as we pray:
Oh God, take pity and bless us
And let your face shine upon us,
So that your ways may be known across the world,
and all nations learn of your saving help ( Psalm 66: 1ff).
Most Rev. Gabriel ‘Leke Abegunrin Most Rev Felix Ajakaye
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