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Nigerian Archbishop Urges Calm amid Hardships, Calls on People to Shun Violence

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria's Abuja Archdiocese. Credit: Abuja Archdiocese/Facebook

The Archbishop of Nigeria’s Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja has discouraged “criminal or violent actions”, noting that there are better ways for the suffering millions in the West African country to express their frustrations.

In his Sunday, August 1 homily at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama said that it is the responsibility of the people to use peaceful means to attract the attention of those in authority to social issues affecting the country.

The government on the other hand should respond quickly to the people’s grievances, the Archbishop of Abuja said.

“There are millions of Nigerians with grim hope to earn their daily bread because of unemployment. There is however no excuse to take to criminal or violent actions that threaten commercial or agricultural activities and peaceful coexistence,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He added, “We must use all peaceful means to appeal to the Government to do what is necessary and the Government must respond quickly so that the large poor populations may not be forced into unending illicit or criminal activities.”

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The Nigerian Archbishop called for the elimination of corruption, which he said was rife in the country’s distribution of resources.

Making reference to the Sunday, August 1 reading from the Book of Exodus, Archbishop Kaigama said, “In the first reading we see a protest to Moses by the people in a peaceful and non-violent manner, thus demonstrating the right attitude of tackling social problems. God heard their cry.”

Reflecting on the theme, “Jesus, the Bread of Life” from the Sunday Gospel according to St. John, the Nigerian Archbishop urged the people of God in Africa’s most populous nation to be grateful for the blessings they have and to shun complaining despite the difficulties they face.

“Dear friends, we may be going through hard times in our nation but we must be careful not to complain inordinately,” the Archbishop said, and added, “It is one thing to ask God for a favor, it is quite another thing to act before Him as if He owes us a debt to be paid back.”

“We must re-examine our motive for following Jesus. If we follow only for ephemeral desires, these desires will prevent us from appreciating the goodness of God, and will hold us in spiritual bondage,” he said.

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The Archbishop of Abuja cautioned against the growing tendency to define one’s relationship with God based on material things, noting that the behavior is leading many people to move from one religion to another in search of material wealth.

“It is not uncommon today that most people move from one church to the other, from one religious house to another in search of signs and wonders, miracles, breakthroughs, favors, and not because of their faith in God. They tend to forget to count their blessings and blame God for their misfortunes,” Archbishop Kaigama said, and added, “Our relationship with God must not be based on how many material things He is able to provide for us but our genuine desire to serve Him.”

He went on to condemn the growing materialism among people noting, “Many want a God who acts like a magician.”

“Little wonder, many Christians today tend to shun those preachers who tell the truth about genuine gospel values, such as dignity of work, honesty, justice, truth, morality, repentance, charity. They prefer those who market the ‘prosperity gospel,’ and engage in superficial worship that calls on God only when there is a need, seeing God as a judge or a policeman or a generous farmer who provides meat, watermelons, onions, cucumbers,” the Nigerian Archbishop said.

He added, “We must count our blessings at all times, and not follow Jesus only because of perishable benefits; follow Him because you love Him and want to deepen this love by knowing and understanding Him better.”

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