Catholic Bishop in Nigeria Warns of Rise in “youth moral decadence”, Calls for Multipronged Solutions, Ethical Guidance

Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo during the Eastertide press conference on 23 April 2024. Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

The rise in the number of young people actively involved in vices is a cause of concern for the Nigerian society, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of the country’s Catholic Diocese of Oyo has warned.

Speaking at an Eastertide Press Conference in his Episcopal See on Tuesday, April 23, Bishop Badejo highlighted some of the vices that he said young people are frequently engaged in and called for a multipronged approach to get them back on track. 

“An increasing number of youths today are engaging in banditry, kidnapping, robbery, ritual killing, and promiscuity and are getting addicted to substance abuse, and gambling,” he lamented.

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

Bishop Badejo described the involvement of young people in the highlighted vices and negative habits as “youth moral decadence”.


He was addressing participants in Eastertide press conference organized under the theme, “Church and State collaboration in citizens' welfare and the development of society” at Bishop Adelakun Hall, Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Cathedral of his Episcopal See.

According to the Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese, who doubles as the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), an entity of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), there is need for “an all-inclusive methodology” to help the youth overcome the vices and bad habits.

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

Such a multipronged strategy, he said, would involve various stakeholders, including “families, communities, educational institutions, religious institutions, the media and the government.”

The stakeholders will need to take a collaborative approach, “with policies aimed at promoting positive values, positive mentors and positive models with support systems that offer opportunities for personal and social development,” Bishop Badejo said, and highlighted the “collaboration between the Church the media and the government” as being “decisive in addressing youth moral decadence.”

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“Such collaboration can enhance the quality of counselling services, support groups and intervention programs for youths struggling with issues such as substance abuse, mental health challenges or family problems, in promoting positive values, character development and life skills,” he said.

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

The member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication since his appointment in December 2021 emphasized the need “for more policies and legislation that promote the wellbeing of youths and address the root causes of moral decadence such as divided families, poverty, inequity and lack of access to holistic education and job opportunities.”

He went on to challenge “all levels” of the Nigerian government to “involve the youths themselves in decision-making processes, community development initiatives and youth-oriented projects.”

Such involvement, the Nigerian Catholic Bishop said, would empower the youths “to become agents of positive change.”


Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

He advocated for research- and evidence-based strategy, saying, “The government needs to better monitor the effectiveness of its youth intervention programs, collect data and conduct evaluation to inform future strategies and actions.”

The strategy would go a long way in motivating families “to create bonds including parenting classes, family counselling sessions and pooling of social services to promote a nurturing environment for the youths,” Bishop Badejo said, adding, “The media have a critical role to play in this regard.”

The Nigerian Catholic Church leader, who started his Episcopal Ministry in October 2007 as Coadjutor Bishop of Oyo Diocese also weighed in on the effects of social media, including on young people, and advocated for “ethical guidance”.

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

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He described social media as “One of the blessings of technology in our time” that goes “beyond the limits of the print and broadcast media.”

The digital space and the related technology, Bishop Badejo noted, “has taken the management of information to a super-highway where what is sent and what is received have a wider audience and everyone may have access to it.”

While “the Church considers these new developments, a blessing from God,” Bishop Badejo cautioned against the manipulation of the digital culture.

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

He said, “We must point out that the democratic mode of the social media and digital space, so to say, by which everyone can manipulate and post just about anything, can be exploited in a frightening manner by some, for ulterior and damaging motives.”

Such manipulation, the Catholic Church leader went on to say, “has already accounted for danger, pain and loss in the lives of many people.”

“We therefore call on all who engage with the social media to promote wholesome values like sanctity of human life, respect for the rule of law, the dignity of labor, the dignity of women, care for the elderly and solidarity with the weak,” he said.

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

“If we take the opportunity, the digital space can be an opportune place for moral and social regeneration aimed at the common good,” Bishop Badejo said, and continued, “We enjoin all with access to social media to avoid noxious, damaging and injurious activities and language and be more constructive in order to stimulate others towards ennobling and appropriate actions.”

He emphasized, “The digital space and its gadgets must never be allowed to become toxic to us. It is important to watch out for this, so that we do not lose touch with one another or with our humanity.”

Credit: Catholic Diocese of Oyo

The President of CEPACS challenged stakeholders to offer “ethical guidance” to foster responsible engagement with social media and the various peripherals. 

“The government, faith-based organizations and other educational institutions including the media need not wait for doomsday before exercising their responsibility to offer ethical guidance especially to the youth in the educational curriculum on the new digital space and Artificial Intelligence,” he said during his address at the April 23 Eastertide press conference.

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