Ongoing Catholic Bishops’ Plenary in Nigeria Urged to be Articulate on Country’s Woes

Members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). Credit: Abuja Archdiocese

The ongoing meeting of the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) is happening at a critical moment when the West African nation is preparing for national elections, an African theologian has said, and urged the Church leaders in the country to come up with a strong statement on the woes facing Nigeria.  

In a reflection on African Catholic Voices, a podcast service of the Pan African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN), Fr. Stan Chu Ilo, a Research Professor in the Department of Catholic Studies at DePaul University, highlights the challenges that Nigeria is facing, including Christians persecution and harsh economic times aggravated by the redesigning of the new currency, and underlines the need for Catholic Bishops to be articulate on these woes.

“People are finding it hard to find the new currency. People are lining up in banks. Many are starving in Nigeria. Violence has become second nature to Nigeria, because of the architecture of violence in Nigeria. Even in the homesteads of Nigeria’s president, over 100 people were killed by the so-called unknown gunmen. No one ever gets to be accountable for the killing. And that is why these heinous killings continue. There is too much suffering in the land,” Fr. Stan says in the February 10 reflection.

He adds, “The Bishops of Nigeria also have an important role to play in all these hardships.”

According to the US-based Nigerian Priest, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have been instrumental in working towards peace in the country that is characterized by a lot of Christian persecution.


He says that it is the Catholic Bishops who instill a sense of forgiveness among the Christian populations who continue to suffer at the hands of Boko Haram militants and Islamist Fulani herdsmen of Fulani descent.

“Without the Bishops calling Christians to tow the path of peace, calling them to pray, calling them not to retaliate evil for evil, maybe we would have descended into religious war because when you think of the fact that 17 Christians are killed in Nigeria, according to some statistics, the temptation is to retaliate by Christians,” Fr. Stan says.

He adds, “It is the Bishops that have been calling on the people to tow the path of peace.”

He urges Muslim leaders to do their part in ending religious persecution in Nigeria, and explains, “You often hear them (Muslim leaders) deny that perpetrators of the heinous crimes are not Muslims. They say these are not our people.”

Fr. Stan however highlights the possibility that non-Muslims are also perpetrators of the ongoing violence in Nigeria, adding, “In the South East, where I come from, it is also a nightmare.”

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“We are still grieving the death of a dear friend who was a commissioner of Enugu state who was murdered alongside his brother,” he says, and adds, “Everyone of us in Nigeria has sad stories to tell of people we know, colleagues, and family members who have died in the violence. This cannot continue.”

The Catholic Priest underlines the need for Catholic Bishops in Nigeria to speak in a voice that projects the suffering of the people, and the entire situation on the ground in the country.

“It’s important that the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria come up with an articulation of the pains, the agonies, the tears and anguish of our people in words that mean something, and speak truth to the forces of darkness who are creating the wretchedness and pain that our people are going through in Nigeria,” he says. 

“It is not God’s will that Nigeria will suffer this way,” Fr. Stan laments, and adds, “It is not God’s will that our people will be held in internal colonialism. And the Church must liberate our people”

According to the Nigerian Priest, the Catholic Church is the only hope of the people in Nigeria today. He says, “And if we get it right as the Church, the rest of Nigeria will follow.”


Members of CBCN started their weeklong first Plenary Assembly for 2023 on February 11, and are set to reflect on the situation of the West African country guided by the theme, “Citizens’ participation in good governance in Nigeria”, up to February 17.

In his homily at the opening Mass of the Plenary Assembly on February 12, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama highlighted some of the challenges the West African nation is facing, including insecurity, high fuel cost, and the redesigning of the Naira, and said that the solution lies in choosing value-based leaders during the general elections slated for February 25.

Meanwhile, Fr. Stan has cautioned religious leaders in Nigeria against overburdening the people of God with too many Church contributions, noting that the people are already struggling to make ends meet amid the country’s biting economic times.

“We do not need to ask the faithful for money to facilitate our meetings. We need a leaner Church. We need to cut your coat according to our size. Our people are suffering. And I think the time has come for the Church to show our solidarity with the poor and the downtrodden by lightening the load,” Fr. Stan says.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.