Nigerians Must Be Forgiving to Overcome “brewing political tensions”: Catholic Archbishop

Credit: Abuja Archdiocese

The people of God in Nigeria need to embrace forgiveness and dialogue to deal with political tensions that are brewing in the West African nation ahead of 2023 elections, a Catholic Archbishop in the country has said.

In his Sunday, February 20 homily at St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s pastoral area of the Archdiocese of Abuja, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama said that forgiveness denotes strength and urged the youth to refuse to be used negatively by political aspirants.

“We must regain the values of forgiveness and dialogue, which seem to have lost popular appeal. Remember that to forgive is not an act of weakness but strength. We need this virtue to overcome in our country the brewing political tensions and unprovoked attacks,” Archbishop Kaigama said in his homily during the 96th National Executive Council Meeting of the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (CYON).

Making reference to the Sunday Gospel Reading in which Jesus asks his followers to love their enemies, the Nigerian Archbishop said the love of enemies is the best revenge and that it also leads to inner peace with oneself.

During the meeting that was organized under the theme, “Mary arose and went with haste” drawn from the Gospel of Luke, Archbishop Kaigama urged the youth to be more involved in Church activities “as positive key drivers of the Church and civil society.”


He further urged the youth to overlook their challenges and to use their God given gifts and talents to serve by voluntarily offering services not only to the Church but also to the society amid life’s challenges and limitations.

“I commend your great enthusiasm and the use of your different gifts and talents to work for God,” the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop said, and added, “Continue to make yourselves available for voluntary service in the Church and society, despite the numerous challenges of unemployment, poverty, insecurity, and the epileptic educational system that sometimes makes you graduate in seven years instead of four.”

He advised the young people to participate in the country’s politics with honesty and to be courageous in performing their civil responsibilities as a way of refraining from being used to cause violence by political aspirants.

“Dear young people, this is the time when leaders pursuing their selfish political interests use young people negatively. Don’t allow yourselves to be used even in the midst of social lack,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He added, “Participate actively and honestly in politics and perform your civic responsibility with great courage and conviction in the spirit of patriotism, with the hope that the conscience of political leaders will be touched and they will be able to sacrifice their comfort, and temper their greed with mercy, to provide for you and your future.”

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The Catholic Archbishop underlined the need for peace in Africa's most populous nation saying, “Keep the light of faith aglow and don’t relent in praying and working for peace and progress.”

He cautioned against violence before, during and after elections and said that it dehumanizes people especially when maiming, hunting, capturing and killing of human beings is involved.

He further said that the love of enemies does not denote condoning wrongs and evils, but it is more of what he referred to as “an eloquent moral response that can be given.”

“Jesus calls you to reject any recourse to violence, because violence dehumanizes us, especially when we hunt, maim, capture and kill fellow human beings,” Archbishop Kaigama said February 20, and added, “The call to love our enemies is not a call to passivity in the face of wrongs and evils, but it is the most eloquent moral response that can be given.”

He explained, “Two wrongs never make one right. Reprisal attacks or revenge may hurt one even more than it will hurt one’s offender.”


He made reference to St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and explained that those who have received Christ will be guided by his Spirit to uphold essential virtues as elements of Christian life with a focus on promoting peace.

“While it is quite difficult, to love those who hate us and to pray for those who persecute us, St. Paul reminds us in our second reading that those who have received Christ are guided by His Spirit to live these essential virtues and elements of our Christian life, to become instruments of peace as St. Francis of Assisi prayed,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.