Bishops in Nigeria Defend Pope Francis against “attacks in recent times”

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria

The Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have come to the defense of Pope Francis against negative criticisms and termed attacks against the Pontiff “the proverbial ill wind that blows no one any good.”

“The Holy Father Pope Francis has come under attacks in recent times,” the Bishops under their national body of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) stated at the end of their second plenary assembly.

“Of more serious concern are the attacks coming from some higher levels of the Church in some parts of the world,” the Bishops observed.

While CBCN’s statement does not make any specific reference to attacks on Pope Francis, it can be recalled that during the most recent in-flight press conferences, Pope Francis admitted to criticisms leveled against him. On his way to Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, September 4, the Holy Father was presented a new book, which claims “that influential figures in the U.S. Church are out to, if not replace Pope Francis, then to actively challenge him,” National Catholic Register reported.

During the in-flight press conference on his way back to Rome, Pope Francis expressed his awareness that the criticisms against him are also from within the curia.


“The criticisms are not only from Americans, they are a little from everywhere, even in the curia,” the Pontiff said and remarked in reference to those who attack him, “The smile, they let you see their teeth and they stab you in the back. This is not loyal, not human.”

In their statement, the Bishops in Nigeria have expressed their communion with Pope Francis saying “that there are other more legitimate and traditionally tested avenues of expressing our opinions to the Holy Father.”

“We reaffirm our faith in and commitment to the Pontificate of the Holy Father Pope Francis,” the Nigerian Bishops stated and added, “We pledge our loyalty and availability to him in the exercise of his Petrine office.”

Responding to the attacks during an inflight press conference after his apostolic visit to Africa from Sept 4-10, the Pope warned that “ideology is "infiltrating" the religious teaching of some quarters of the U.S. Catholic Church, and said that in past centuries such infiltrations have led to schisms.

To criticize without wanting to hear the response and without dialogue is not wanting the good of the Church. It is to go backward to a fixed idea, to change the pope, to change the style, to create schism, this is clear no?” the Pope added.

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The bishops also added their voice in condemning xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

“We denounce the horrendous xenophobic attacks in South Africa in which many non-nationals, including Nigerians, lost their lives and/or have their property looted and/or forced to flee the country for their dear lives,” they said.

“We condemn the unfortunate reprisals on perceived South African investments in some part of Nigeria, as two wrongs do not make a right!” the message added.

The Bishops’ conference once again invited the government to take steps to curb insecurity in the country, which is “making living in Nigeria very precarious.”

The meeting was held at the Divine Mercy Pastoral Centre, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, September 11-20.