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Nuncio in Nigeria Highlights Communion Value as Abuja Archbishop Receives Pallium

Archbishop Anthonio Guido Fillipazzi, Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria conferring the pallium on the Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama during Mass at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro-Cathedral Thursday, August 27, 2020.

The representative of the Holy Father in Nigeria has, at the Eucharistic celebration during which the Archbishop of Abuja received the pallium, underscored the importance of communion in the Church.

At the Thursday, August 27 event, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Anthonio Guido Fillipazzi invited the Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama and those in attendance to view the pallium as symbolizing Church communion and friendship with the person of Jesus Christ.

“The pallium received by the Archbishop of Abuja speaks, therefore, to him and to all of us, each according to his/her vocation, of communion in the Church, of mission in the world, of friendship with the Lord Jesus,” Archbishop Fillipazzi said at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria, Pro-Cathedral, Garki, Abuja.

The pallium, the Apostolic Nuncio added, is “a sign and an invitation to live the communion in the Church.”

“Without true communion it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to carry out the mission that Christ entrusted to His disciples,” he underscored.

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The Italian-born Prelate described communion as “a reality delicate and fragile” and that “this happens when what keeps us united and is more important than our differences are not faith, charity, prayer, mutual service, witness of life, but other goals and interests.”

“In this way, unfortunately, our communities are divided within themselves, because we give pride of place to our kinship or friendships, our ethnic group, our ideas, projects and objectives, our selfish interests,” the Papal Nuncio said in his homily during the Eucharistic celebration.

He recalled, referencing Saint John Paul II, that “communion and mission are profoundly connected with each other; they interpenetrate and mutually imply each other to the point that communion represents both the source and the fruit of mission; communion gives rise to mission and mission is accomplished in communion.”

The pallium is a white woolen garment that represents the traditional and peculiar sign of the metropolitan office. On the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, Pope Francis blessed the “pallium” to be given to each new Metropolitan Archbishop during Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

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“Today we bless the pallia to be bestowed on the dean of the College of Cardinals and the metropolitan archbishops named in the last year. The pallium is a sign of the unity between the sheep and the Shepherd who, like Jesus, carries the sheep on his shoulders, so as never to be separated from it,” Pope Francis said.

In his August 27 homily, Archbishop Fillipazzi noted that the investiture of the Pallium on Archbishop Kaigama would not take place in Rome at the Vatican City due to COVID-19 restrictions.  

“It is providential and historic that Archbishop Kaigama is among the first Archbishops in the world to be conferred with the honour outside of Rome,” the representative of the Holy Father said.

“May Archbishop Kaigama's pallium strongly call us to pray and to work to fulfil what the Church sings in the ancient hymn "Übi caritas," the Nuncio in Nigeria implored.

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In November 2019, Archbishop Kaigama was installed as the Local Ordinary of Abuja, succeeding John Cardinal Onaiyekan.

Archbishop Kaigama had received the pallium in 2000 as the Archbishop of Jos.

Addressing the faithful during the Mass, Archbishop Kaigama thanked the Holy Father.

“My very deep appreciation goes to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who personally blessed the Pallium in Rome on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, and has given it to me today through the Apostolic Nuncio as a symbol of service to communion, unity and peace,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He promised to “continue by the grace of God, my pastoral mission in Abuja Archdiocese where His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, building on the excellent foundations of his predecessor, His Eminence, Dominic Ignatius Cardinal Ekandem, together with the clergy, religious and generous laity have brought what started as a mission to what is today Abuja Archdiocese.”

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The 62-year-old Nigerian Prelate announced the creation of thirty (30) new pastoral areas in the Archdiocese of Abuja inviting the people of God in his jurisdiction to “kindly adopt any of the thirty new pastoral areas or join with others to adopt one area and nourish it to a full parish.”