AS THE BISHOPS prepare for the first Plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) next month, Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin has told those in positions of authority to use their power for the good of those they are leading, and not to oppress them.

 The bishops of Ibadan province, who met to discuss issues on the Church and State at the Jubilee Conference Centre, Oke Ado, Ibadan, on 15 and 16 January, celebrated a special Mass of the Holy Spirit.

Concelebrating were Bishops Emmanuel Badejo, Felix Ajakaye , John Oyejola and Archbishop emeritus Felix Alaba Job and some priests of the Province at St Joseph’s, Oke Ado, Ibadan on 16 January.

Archbishop Abegunrin, during homily, affirmed that “Sabbath is made for man and not man for Sabbath;” so those who make laws and those who interpret them must consider first the interest of the masses. 

Connecting this to the election of David as king in Israel, he emphasised that human beings are often misled by outward appearances. “Human beings are the centre of the world, rather than clothes or money. We often look at the paraphernalia of people, how big they are rather everyone as a child of God, than seeing,” he said. 

The religious leaders later led the congregation to pray that justice would prevail in the country and that the relevant authorities would have the political will to make laws for the good of everyone.

At the plenary, where the provincial officers of the Laity council, CWO, CYON, NACC, YCS, Social Communications directorate, Indigenous priests Association and NFCS were present to give reports and interact with the Church leaders, the archbishop reiterated the important place of the laity in the Church.

According to the prelate, the laity who are in the majority are to be formed by the Church. “Our formation takes place in the places we go and what we do. Don’t dodge meetings,” Archbishop Abegunrin said and urged the laity to see every encounter with the Church as an opportunity to be formed.

The laity, he said, are to go and make Christ known; not by carrying bells but by your way of life as Catholics – not Christians of a sort.

The Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) was specifically told to concentrate more efforts on the family. “Good families make a good society. Pay attention to the family so that it will not lose its values,” the prelate said. He added that parents should not be discouraged in getting Catholic education for their children. “Education is expensive these days; parents spend so much to train their children. Don’t be discouraged. They are your future and the future of our society.”

He further encouraged the laity, both men and women, to go into partisan politics, stating that if some good people go into politics, the place will be sanitised.

“Though it is difficult, you must persevere. You also have to be many because politics is a game of number and noise making.”

While calling attention to the negative influence of the society on Christians, the prelate cautioned the faithful against materialism as stated by prosperity preachers.

The archbishop said, “It is unfortunate that we are allowing the society to teach us what is bad.” He advised the faithful not to shy away from letting people know who they are.

“Negative things are always selling but we must sell the good. Among the public, we must show that we are different and are good. Don’t let us be shy to profess that we are Catholics,” he said.


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