Pentecostalism in Nigeria “a greater concern than blessing of same-sex couples”: Scholar

Fr. Anthony Akinwale addressing Catholic Bishops in Nigeria during their First 2024 Plenary Assembly at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) Resource Centre, Durumi Abuja on Monday, 19 February 2024. Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network

The Catholic space in Africa’s most populous nation has been infiltrated by adherents to the Protestant Charismatic Christian movement, Pentecostalism, a Catholic Priest and scholar has told members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).

Addressing CBCN members participating in their First 2024 Plenary Assembly at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) Resource Centre, Durumi Abuja on Monday, February 19, Fr. Anthony Akinwale described the “explosion” of Pentecostalism as quite problematic.

“It is a well-known fact that in Nigeria, our Catholic space has been invaded by Pentecostalism,” the Professor and Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) at Augustine University Ilara-Epe in Nigeria’s Lagos State said, and described Pentecostalism phenomenon as “contemporary Nigerian religiosity in its expression within and outside the Catholic Church”.

Alluding to the controversies and deep divisions that have characterized Fiducia Supplicans (FS), the Vatican Declaration permitting members of the Clergy to bless “same-sex couples”, Fr. Akinwale said that Pentecostalism “is a greater concern than blessing of same-sex couples”.

Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network


“We have witnessed an explosion of new religious communities some with little or nothing in terms of spirituality and charism of consecrated life,” he said, and thanked CBCN members for taking steps to address the phenomenon. 

He emphasized the need for Catholic Church leaders in Nigeria to “pay attention to doctrinal deviations, liturgical aberrations, and pastoral malpractice” in the West African nation, and intervene.

Fr. Akinwale said he was concerned that the highlighted malpractices have been left to go on “while we are looking the other way.” He cautioned CBCN members against inaction, saying, “Our failure to intervene, especially as bishops, tend to portray us as aiding and abetting this.”

Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network

The DVC of Augustine University Ilara-Epe identified “the explosion” of unregulated church ministries, with a section of Clergy patronizing them, as another challenge Catholic Church leaders in Nigeria must address.

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“There is another phenomenon the Conference needs to look at, not to stifle but to discern the Spirit. It is the explosion of ministries in the Church in Nigeria established and patronized by some priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful,” he said in his presentation titled, “Synod on Synodality: Areas of concern for the Church in Nigeria”.

Fr. Akinwale went on to explain his concerns, saying, “Some of these ministries and ministers pretend to be Catholic. They even display statues of our Blessed on their websites or expose the Blessed Sacrament in a way that points to sacrilege. Fake prophecies and arrangee miracles are being touted before a traumatized, bewildered and gullible populace while shepherds fail to rescue the flock from ravening, ravaging and manipulative wolves.”

Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network

“The populism of these ministries, the advertisement of un-authenticated miracles and prophecies, the opium these ministries administer on our people, erode the credibility of Christianity, of Catholicism in particular, in our country,” he lamented.

The Nigerian member of the Order of Preachers (OP/Dominicans) predicted confusion and possible fallout. He said, “A more critically-minded generation will emerge and is already emerging that would repudiate Catholicism because it is unable to see the difference between the Pentecostal pastor and a Catholic priest.”


As a way forward, the University Professor emphasized the need to invest in the “formation of everyone in the Church, beginning with us ecclesiastics.”

Credit: Nigeria Catholic Network

He added, “Our seminary formation must be constantly reviewed to attain the objective of safeguarding the faith.”

There is also the need for the Church leadership to recognize that formation neither ends “with priestly nor with episcopal ordination,” the Dominican scholar told CBCN members during his February 19 presentation. 

He continued, “We must be formed to respect and to lead the people, to appreciate the baptismal dignity and charism of the lay faithful, and of consecrated persons who are sometimes treated like tenants with clerics as their landlords. We are doing well. But we can do better.”

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