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COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF THE LAGOS ECCCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE
A COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF THE LAGOS ECCCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE AT THE END OF THEIR FIRST MEETING OF THE YEAR 2021 AT ST. AGNES CATHOLIC CHURCH, MARYLAND, LAGOS ON THURSDAY, 28TH JANUARY 2021
We, the Catholic Bishops of the Lagos Ecclesiastical Province, comprising the Archdiocese of Lagos, the Diocese of Ijebu-Ode and the Diocese of Abeokuta, held our first meeting for the year 2021 at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos on Thursday, 28th January 2021. After taking reports from representatives of the Lay Faithful, Consecrated Men and Women, the Diocesan Clergy, and the Directorate of Social Communications in our Province, and after our own deliberation, hereby issue the following communiqué.
1. Gratitude to the Almighty
We give thanks to the Almighty God for seeing us through the turbulent year 2020 which was majorly characterized by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic which raged across the world, almost grounding every religious, socio-economic and political activity in the country to a standstill. We commend the Clergy, Religious and the lay faithful for remaining steadfast in the faith in spite of the long period of lockdown and other challenges they had to contend with last year. We urge them not to relent in practicing their faith and in total commitment to the life and growth of the Church. We pray that Year 2021 will usher in new a vista of hope for humanity as she grapples with ways of containing the pandemic and its effects.
2. The Year of St. Joseph
The Church is currently observing the Year of St. Joseph promulgated by His Holiness, Pope Francis, to run from the 8th December 2020 to the 8th December 2021. We call on the Catholic faithful to participate actively in all the programmes and activities that are being organized in our respective dioceses to honour the foster father of our Saviour Jesus Christ and most chaste spouse of his Immaculate Virgin Mother Mary. May St. Joseph intercede for all of our families.
3. Communications Apostolate in the Province
Communication is at the heart of evangelization, the great mission which Jesus Christ, the Perfect Communicator gave to the Church. This was made particularly vivid last year when, in the heat of the nation-wide lockdown, the communication departments along with the clergy in the Province rose to the challenge, making Mass and other liturgical celebrations available to the People of God through the social and electronic media. In view of the need to strengthen this very important arm of the Church, we resolve to continue exploring ways of ensuring more ways of funding and training personnel for the apostolate in the Province.
4. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic
Our country Nigeria and indeed the entire world have continued to experience an unrelenting rise in the number of people dying or being hospitalized with serious sickness as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. More than one year after the first cases were reported, the virus shows no sign of going away to allow people return to their normal ways of life.
We applaud the discovery and production of vaccines to protect people from getting infected by the virus and getting seriously sick. We however urge that the distribution of the vaccines be done in a fair and equitable manner that ensures that they get to all those who need them when they need them, regardless of their social or economic status.
We urge the populace to take the pandemic seriously, and not scoff at it as a hoax. Consequently, they should abide strictly by all the safety measures put in place by the authorities to prevent themselves and those around them from getting infected with COVID-19 and getting seriously sick from it.
We further urge the populace to take proactive measures to boost their personal immunity against the virus. At the same time, they should have recourse to the almighty and merciful God in prayer to bring a speedy end to the coronavirus pandemic in our world.
5. Insecurity in our land
We note with delight that the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, finally found it fit to effect a replacement of the Service Chiefs of the Nigerian armed forces, in response to the persistent clamour of Nigerians from various walks of life.
It is our sincere hope and ardent prayer that the new service chiefs, like the proverbial new broom, will bring new vigour and vision into the war against insecurity that currently bedevils every nook and cranny of our nation. They should see that task as the reason for their appointment, and prosecute it with all the necessary human and material resources to bring a speedy end to the insecurity in our land.
We implore all our state governors to rise to their primary responsibility of ensuring the security of life and property of all the inhabitants of the states that they govern. They should not go to sleep, while terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and other hoodlums are having a field day terrorizing and brutalizing the innocent citizens within their domains.
We urge the citizens themselves across the length and breadth of Nigeria to exercise maximum vigilance as they go about their daily tasks and routines. They should stay awake and alert to suspicious movements by any elements within their communities, and make prompt reports to the authorities for appropriate and timely action to be taken to nip any threat to life and/or property in the bud. As the saying goes, “if you see something, say something. Don’t keep quiet!”
6. Need to Live in Peace
We commend the recent meetings held with Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria by Governors of the South West in order to build peace among the people. We advocate for more dialogues amongst the various ethnic groups as a way of living in peace and unity with the hope that such meetings would actually result in mutual respect and the security of lives and properties. We expect that the criminals who commit the crimes of murder, rape, kidnaping for ransom and destruction of farmlands as well as their sponsors would be fished out and brought to book without any further delay.
7. Conclusion and Prayer
May our Blessed Lady, Mother of the Church and Queen of Nigeria, pray for our country Nigeria and the entire human race at the divine throne of mercy, as we navigate one of the most trying times that our world has known in recent history.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chr. 7:14)
Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins
Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos
Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina
Bishop of IJebu-Ode,
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