Headline: Communique issued at the end of the First Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province held at the Pastoral Institute, Ibadan from January 19 -20, 2015Posted on: 2015-01-22
Lord, Visit Our Land and Redeem Your People
Preamble and Thanksgiving
We, members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province comprising of Ibadan Archdiocese, Ondo, Ilorin, Oyo, Ekiti and Osogbo dioceses give all glory to God for the gift of another year. We thank God for bringing us, our country and our peoples through the trials and tribulations of the past year and appreciate his goodness for the things that have brought us all joy and fulfillment. Having prayerfully deliberated at our meeting on matters of concern to our Church and our nation, we issue the following Communique:
1. Imminent General Elections
We commend all politicians and political parties who have so far run issue-based, violence-free campaigns in preparations for general elections in Nigeria. We urge them to continue in this manner, proposing their plans to work out a better Nigeria where peace and justice thrive. Many politicians unfortunately have either personally or through their cronies engaged in mudslinging, character assassination and outright falsehood to gain political advantage and provoke violence among the people. We denounce such unwholesome activities and urge a stop to them forthwith. We implore and call on the media, civil society and the general public to keep challenging politicians to conduct purposeful and honest campaigns and contest. We ask the general public to refuse to vote for politicians who engage in violence, who peddle falsehood, and conduct purposeless campaigns as they have thus shown the manner of government they are likely to run if they win. We ask all Nigerians to obtain and secure their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and we admonish INEC to do all possible to conduct free, safe and fair elections, come February 2015.
2. Violence in Nigeria
We must mention the persistent, murderous activities of Boko Haram in the North Eastern part of Nigeria. We acknowledge the effort of government to curb the hydra-headed monster, the sacrifice of our soldiers, security agents, and civilians, many of whom have died in this crisis. May the soul of the dead rest in perfect peace and may those who have been injured and displaced continue to find succor in their needs. We call on all Nigerians to cooperate with the security agencies through vigilance and prompt information. We decry the heightened level of violence in Nigeria witnessed in jungle justice, assassinations, ritual killings and the like. We hereby reiterate that human life is sacred and must be so treated from conception to natural death and we call everyone to reject violence and bloodletting in all their dealings.
3. Elections, Governance and Labour Strikes
A general concern in Nigeria as elections approach is the near abandonment of day-to-day governance in the euphoria of campaigning for votes. Such situations allegedly, are caused by the commitment of all state apparatus and finances to the canvassing for support and votes. This is perhaps responsible for the unresolved strikes going on in the academic and the health sectors in the country. We find this situation unacceptable, to say the least. It is immoral to donate and accept huge funds for frivolous causes, and daily change costumes and outfits for political rallies while neglecting workers in vital sectors of the polity. We admonish government and all concerned to have a change of heart, wake up to their statutory duties and resolve all outstanding strikes in order to save the public from further suffering and hardship.
4. Synod on the Family/Pro-Life and Family L ife Conference
As the Universal Church prepares for the Synod of Bishops on the Family, scheduled for the later part of the year, we call on all to be attentive to the challenges faced by the traditional, Christian family today from powerful promoters of pro-choice lifestyles. These propose attractive but often sinful and harmful attitudes to sexuality and relationships which undermine the authority and influence of families and religious organizations, especially on the youth. We reiterate the Catholic Church's stand for responsible parenthood and pro-life commitments. We call on all our dioceses and organizations to do all in their power to support, educate and help families and individuals to be faithful to their vocation as agents of evangelization and positive transformers of contemporary society. In this regard, our Conference has approved a Pro-Life and Family Conference entitled: Human Life, Family Values and the Culture of Murder, to be held at the Pope John Paul II Centre of the Seat of Wisdom Parish, University of Ibadan between April 12 and 14, 2015. We urge all people of goodwill, groups and institutions to participate actively in this enlightening, life-giving event.
5. Year of the Consecrated Life
The Holy Father, Pope Francis has called a Year of the Consecrated Life which started on November 29, 2014 and ends on the World Day of Consecrated Life February 2, 2016. It is to be a period of reappraisal and reformation in order to re-energize all Consecrated people in their vocation. We take this opportunity to celebrate the gift of all Consecrated people in the Church and thank them for their sacrifice. May all Consecrated people continue to find joy and fulfillment in their vocation. We urge all to pray for increase in the number of Consecrated persons in our Province.
6. Anniversaries, Celebrations and Appointments
We thank God for the anniversaries and celebrations that have taken place in our churches, institutions and families in our Province. We congratulate all, especially Most Rev Julius B. Adelakun, Bishop emeritus of Oyo diocese who celebrated his 80 birthday on November 4, 2015, Bishop Ayomaria Atoyebi, of Ilorin diocese who celebrated his 70th birthday on 3rd of December, 2014. We also congratulate in anticipation Bishop Francis Alonge, Bishop Emeritus of Ondo Diocese who turns 80 on March 1, 2015 and Bishop Michael Fagun, Bishop emeritus of Ekiti diocese clocking 80 on April 17, 2015. These are all signs of God's goodness to our Province. May he continue to be gracious to us and bless us.
8. Continental Appointment
We are thankful also that one of us. Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo has been appointed Chairman of the Continental Office for Catholic Communications (CEPACS) for the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). It is a very important but complex job. We congratulate him and pray that he may be inspired and empowered from above to do the job.
In conclusion we once again call on God in supplication in the words of the psalmist: "Oh Lord, my God, I call for help by day: I cry out in the night before you. Let my prayer come before you, incline your ear to my cry" (Ps. 88: 1-2).
Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye
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