They further ask the State and the Federal governments “to do more, especially by exploring the path of dialogue even with those opposed to its policies.”
“Dialogue and friendship in society is the desirable means between selfish indifference and violent protest,” Catholic Bishops in Nigeria say, citing Fratelli Tutti.
They encourage Nigerians to use the Lenten Season to renew their relationship with God and with one another saying, “Seek healing and reconciliation in this period as we open ourselves more readily for dialogue to achieve lasting peace.”
“The message of Lent is straightforward: ‘repent and believe the Good News’. As we engage in prayer, fasting and almsgiving, may the swords, clubs, guns, bombs and knives used to maim, kill and destroy our brothers and sisters be beaten into ploughshares,” CBCN members say.
They add, “The Season is a privileged moment for interior examination and conversion as we intensify our prayers to purify ourselves and for our spiritual rebirth. It is a period of internal renewal and service.”
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The Catholic Church leaders challenge Nigerians, especially “our young people to eschew corrupt acquisition of wealth, and violent pursuit of power.”
In the communique signed by the outgoing CBCN President and Secretary, Archbishop Augustine Obiora and Bishop Camillus Raymond Umoh, respectively, CBCN members laud the government for initiating the Constitution reform process.
“We urge the legislature and the executive to exercise their relevant roles to give the nation an adequate Constitution that reflects our common aspiration to live in unity, justice, and peace,” they say.
CBCN members also commend the efforts of the National Assembly, the President, and everyone who worked towards the process of enacting the Electoral Act 2022.
They say the new electoral law engenders a better democracy in which there would be free, fair and transparent elections if it is “well and sincerely implemented.”
CBCN members say there is need for “sincerity and vigilance over the accuracy and objective use of the technology” that has been adopted by the new electoral law.
Making reference to February 2023 general elections, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria call upon all eligible voters to secure their voter’s cards and come out en masse on the day of the polls to vote for leaders who can lead Nigerians to a better life.
They also urge the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials to register only those who are eligible voters.
“We also urge the electoral commission and other relevant bodies to organize and promote appropriate voter education,” CBCN members say in their March 10 Communiqué shared with ACI Africa.
Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.