Listening, “a necessary prerequisite for faith development”: Catholic Bishops in Nigeria

A poster announcing the National Pastoral Congress in Nigeria. Credit: CBCN

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have emphasized the need to foster the virtue of listening in the ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality describing the practice as “a necessary prerequisite for faith development”.

In their collective message issued at the end of the National Pastoral Congress in Nigeria, members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) also underscore the need to promote “dialogue” alongside listening.  

“The Synod on synodality has listening and dialogue as essential components. Faith comes through hearing,” CBCN members say in their Friday, November 11 message.

They describe listening as “a necessary prerequisite for faith development. It is an integral part of synodality, for it is only by hearing that we discern properly as a Church,” 

The Catholic Church leaders in the West African nation note that “at the different levels of the Church, the pastors and the people are to cultivate an attitude of patience, attentiveness to and respect for the views of others.”


“This attitude paves the way for genuine dialogue,” they add in their message signed by the President of CBCN, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji.

The Catholic Bishops call for “a well-represented pastoral council in all parishes as a way of creating space, more room for dialogue and participation.”

“In a synodal Church, ways must be devised by which those in the periphery such as the non-literate, materially poor and the quiet members of the Church can be heard,” CBCN members say.

They add, “No doubt, wars, dissension, bitterness and acrimony can be avoided by embracing the power of listening and dialogue.”

The National Pastoral Congress, which started on November 8 was organized under the same theme as the Synod on Synodality, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission”.

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In their November 11 collective statement, CBCN members also highlight the importance of continuous catechetical formation in Africa’s most populous nation.

“Catechetical formation, which is an ongoing and dynamic process, is at the heart of the growth and development of the Christian life,” they say, and add, “There is no gain saying that we should be constantly formed in our faith.”

To realize Catechetical formation, CBCN members say, “a well-developed programme, which should include a curriculum on Catholic education for mission schools, should be designed for catechetical formation should be such that it does not end with the reception of the sacrament but initiate a process that should accompany the Catholic all through life.”

“This is not only desirable, but a necessity for effective Christian witnessing. In pursuance of this ideal, all hands must be on deck,” the Catholic Bishops add in their message issued at the end of the National Congress that was held at St. Paul Catholic Parish of Benin City Archdiocese.

They call on members of the Clergy, women and men Religious “to take the lead in the catechetical formation of the faithful. As their immediate collaborators, catechists are to be adequately trained and justly remunerated, while parents, on their part, are to ensure the initial catechetical formation of their wards backed up by exemplary Christian lifestyle.”


In their message, CBCN members also highlight the importance of unity among all believers in Nigeria.

“We as a people are ardent believers in the one God, creator of heaven and earth, who has the earth to us as our common heritage, who expects us to relate to him in deference and obeisance, respectful of one another,” Catholic Bishops in Nigeria say.

They add, “As a Church, we continue to promote dialogical relations with other faiths such as Muslims and practitioners of the African Traditional Religion.”

“Despite our differences in the faiths we profess, we can and should embark on joint initiatives in the service of the common good,” CBCN members say.

They continue, “In the spirit of cooperation and co-responsibility, we can and should necessarily unite for the common cause of fighting corruption, ethnocentrism, terrorism and banditry, social injustice, poverty, drug abuse; fostering good governance and free, fair and credible elections.”

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Purposeful unity, the Catholic Church leaders further say, “helps in promoting security, peace and understanding in our communities and nation; protecting the sanctity of our places of worship in the face of wanton destruction at the slightest provocation; safeguarding the environment and caring for those in need.’

“These, no doubt, constitute an ideal way of putting what we believe into practice; walking forward together on the same path of love and solidarity; and moving forward purposefully in the same direction for the good of one and all,” they add.

They implore in their November 11 collective statement, “As a people of faith, we continue to pray and work for a better future for ourselves and the coming generations.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.