Preamble: A Spiritual Gathering for Reflection
The Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), held at Chida International Hotel, Utako, Abuja, from September 7 to September 15, 2023, brought together Catholic Bishops from across Nigeria. This gathering was not just about faith but also a reflection on the challenges facing the Church and the Nigerian state. Here, we present the outcomes of their reflections in this communiqué.
Religion’s Role in Nation-Building
Religion, throughout history, has played a pivotal role in shaping nations. In Nigeria, where Christianity, Islam, and African Traditional Religions coexist, these religions share common values such as the sanctity of human life, justice, respect for authority, and care for the vulnerable. However, religion in Nigeria has, at times, been misused for violence, division, and manipulation. The CBCN calls for a return to the positive aspects of religion, urging all Christians and people of goodwill to contribute to the nation’s rebuilding by promoting social justice, the rule of law, and unity.
The 2023 General Elections: Challenges and the Role of the Judiciary
The 2023 General Elections have concluded, but challenges marred the process, including threats, violence, and irregularities. Despite these setbacks, the CBCN commends citizens for their participation and calls on election tribunals and courts to ensure fairness and credibility in their judgments. Encouraging peaceful resolution through the legal process, the CBCN advocates for election petitions to be determined before new administrations take office.
Addressing Nigeria’s Challenges
The CBCN acknowledges the escalating insecurity in Nigeria due to insurgencies, militia attacks, banditry, and kidnappings. Communities have been displaced, and many children are out of school. The CBCN condemns violence and calls on governments to protect citizens. Furthermore, they urge regional organizations like ECOWAS and the AU to embrace dialogue as a solution to leadership crises.
Economic Hardship and Suffering
Nigeria’s economy has caused hardship, poverty, and hunger among its citizens. The removal of the fuel subsidy has raised costs for essential needs. The CBCN calls for structural reforms to address poverty and inequality, job creation for youths, curbing mineral theft, and reducing government expenditure.
Synodality for Unity and Growth
The CBCN emphasizes Synodality—a way of unity, participation, and collaboration—as essential for rebuilding Nigeria. It advocates for reconciliation, dialogue, and right relationships among diverse ethnic and religious groups.
Moral decline is evident in corruption, cybercrime, dishonesty, and dishonest media. The CBCN calls for moral education and integrity in families, schools, and public institutions. It urges the youth to have faith and uphold moral principles.
Politics for Nation-Building
To build a better Nigeria, politicians must prioritize the common good. The CBCN encourages Catholics with political talent to engage in politics with integrity. Partisan political activities and holding public offices are reserved for laypeople, not clergy.
Updates from the Church
The CBCN shares news of successful events like World Youth Day, the upcoming 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and the 5th National Mission Congress (NAMICON-V). They express condolences for the recent disasters in Libya and Morocco. They also celebrate the growth of the Church in Nigeria, including the creation of new dioceses and the appointment of new Bishops.
Conclusion: Moving Forward with Hope
The CBCN calls on Nigerians to remain hopeful despite challenges. They believe in a better Nigeria where altruistic and patriotic citizens can work together for unity, peace, and justice. Through faith and intercession, they believe Nigeria can overcome its difficulties.
By the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji (President, CBCN) Bishop Donatus A. Ogun, OSA (Secretary, CBCN).