Feeding the Hungry “an ethical imperative, powerful form of prayer”: Nigerian Archbishop

The Archbishop of Nigeria's Abuja Archdiocese, Ignatius Kaigama

Putting into practice the first of the seven corporal works of mercy that calls upon the people of God to feed the hungry is an “ethical imperative” and a “powerful form of prayer,” a Nigerian Archbishop has said.

In his homily Tuesday, March 9 during a Cathedraticum Mass of Bwari Deanery of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama highlighted insecurity, unemployment, and COVID-19 among factors that have aggravated lack of food in the West African nation where over 80 million people suffer “the consequences of food insecurity.”

“Feeding the hungry is an ethical imperative,” Archbishop Kaigama said, adding, “Giving food to the poor is a powerful form of prayer.”

Making reference to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI’s 2009 Encyclical ‘Caritas in veritatis,’ the Nigerian Archbishop said, “The right to food, like the right to water, has an important place within the pursuit of other rights.”

The first World Day of the Poor, which Pope Francis instituted and first observed on 19 November 2017 “urges all to love the poor, not with words but with deeds,” Archbishop Kaigama further said.


While having no food in Nigeria seems “no news,” the 62-year-old Archbishop remarked, it should be a cause for “worry” that his country has “earned the sobriquet as the poverty capital of the world.”

“A combination of the COVID-19 pandemic related factors, conflicts and unemployment are worsening our poverty levels,” he said March 9 at St. Matthew's Parish, Ushafa of Abuja Archdiocese.

According to the Archbishop, the “more than 80 million Nigerians said to be living in extreme poverty and suffering the consequences of food insecurity, even despite our fertile land and enormous material resources, is due to lack of political will and economic foresight at all levels.”

“We still have many internally displaced persons (IDPs) in IDP Camps, beggars on the streets, youths unemployed and restless, and pensioners languishing in poverty, etc.,” he said.

He added. “Our subsistence farmers cannot go to their farms due to fear of attack by gunmen who in recent times have driven them out and taken over their farms and homes.”

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“The lack of sincere efforts in fighting the menace of insecurity has aggravated the situation of hunger and poverty,” Archbishop Kaigama said, adding that the situation calls for the people of God under his pastoral care to increase their support to the poor.

The need for the increased support to the needy is why the Archdiocese of Abuja “launched the Lenten campaign, distributed Lenten boxes, and requested all parishioners to take up the various Lenten collections to support our poor and needy,” he explained.

In the face of food insecurity, the Archbishop said, “We must avoid the culture of food wastage where much of the food is thrown away or the produce of farmers rot away due to the absence of proper storage facilities.”

For farmers to resume their activities and facilitate food security, Archbishop Kaigama called on the newly appointed security service chiefs to “creatively confront the issue of insecurity to provide us with an environment conducive for the masses to cope with our current economic realities, particularly in the rural areas.”