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Nigeria’s Current Trying Moments Need “true valentine love,” Catholic Bishop Says

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Nigeria's Oyo Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Nigerians can wade through the challenges facing the country by embracing “true valentine love”, which is characterized by self-denial and sacrifice, a Catholic Bishop in the West African country has said.

In his Friday, February 11 message on the World Day of the sick, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo  says that “the sick, the poor, the marginalized, the captives, the bereaved, and the refugees all need a chunk of the tremendous quantum of love energy available all around at valentine.”

“The trying period which Nigeria is passing through at present actually calls for true valentine love, the type which embraces Lenten virtues like self-denial, sacrifice and laying down of one’s life for others,” Bishop Badejo says.

The Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese who doubles as the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) further says that the world day of the sick occurring three days before Valentine’s Day “qualifies to be the Catholic Church’s Valentine for the sick and the poor.”

Making reference to The Message of Pope Francis for the 30th World Day of the Sick 2022 titled, “Standing Beside those who Suffer on a Path of Charity,” Bishop Badejo notes that the focus of the Church is “the plight of the sick and the needy, people who most need our love and care as well as on those who care for them.”

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In his February 11 message, the Nigerian Catholic Bishop who is a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication says that if poverty is the highest form of disease as is being speculated, then Nigeria needs to celebrate Valentine’s Day more than any other country in the whole world.

“Now I have often heard it said that poverty is, in fact, the highest form of disease. Going by this, Nigeria must be among the largest fields for real valentine celebrations in all the world,” he says.

The Catholic Bishop adds that the Muhammadu Buhari-led government has rendered more people poorer than before and that the West African country has experienced the highest inflation rate in Sub-Saharan West Africa.

“Some economic experts have declared that under the Buhari regime 8 million more people have become poorer than they were before,” Bishop Badejo says, and adds, “The World Bank says that Nigeria currently has the highest rate of inflation in Sub Saharan West Africa and that the Nigerian government has done next to nothing to tackle rising inflation in the entire 2021.”

According to the Bishop, “no one really needs any economist to know that thousands of people are now having to beg just to be able to feed themselves and their dependents in Nigeria today.” 

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He says that Valentine’s Day, being about love, should be extended beyond physical attraction and channeled to the sick, the poor and the marginalized in the society.

“If indeed, Valentine is truly a time for sharing love and care, then all men and people of goodwill have every reason to extend Valentine 2022 sentiments beyond mere physical, amorous attraction,” Bishop Badejo says.

He adds, “We just must admit that too many people need love in our country today and make our valentine goodies a surprise package for someone out there.”

Bishop Badejo further makes reference to the American educator and orator, Booker T. Washington who has been quoted as saying, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else” and underscores the need to love those in need, saying that the reward is greater.

“There is no doubt that love strewn further afield will always return with even more abundant reward for the lover. No one on earth can tie the valentine celebration to a more noble purpose than this,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop says in his February 11 message on the World Day of the Sick.

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Celebrated annually on February 11, and coinciding with the commemoration of our Lady of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick is an observance initiated as a way for believers to offer prayers for those suffering from illnesses.

In his February 9 message during his Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis recalled the World Day of the Sick that was instituted by St. John Paul II and called for spiritual and physical closeness to all those who are battling with various ailments.

“The patient is always more important than his illness and this is why any therapeutic approach cannot neglect listening… How can we not recall, in this regard, the many patients who, during the pandemic, lived in isolation,” Pope Francis said February 9.