The Catholic Church has called on its priests to henceforth restrain from using the pulpit for political campaigns even as the church would encourage every adult Nigerian to participate actively in the forthcoming election and not leave it to career politicians alone.
In a nine-point resolution made at the end of the meeting between the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and the Nigeria Catholic Diocesan Priests Association of Nigeria (NCDPA) held at the Sacred Heart Pastoral Centre, Orlu, with the theme: ‘Political Consciousness for Effective Choice of Political Leaders in Nigeria’, the Church vows to use its resources and structures to mobilize all sectors of the populace for active participation in the electoral process.
The resolutions signed by Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Chairman, CBCN, Department of Church and Society and Rev Fr John Bosco Ezehi, President, NCDPA, state that:
- Given that politics, properly understood, is the pursuit of the common good of the citizenry, we commit ourselves to encouraging every adult in Nigeria to participate actively in it rather than leave it to career politicians alone.
- We shall work to increase the level and quality of political awareness among our people so that all may realize that only through the right political choices can our present situation be ameliorated.
- We shall use our resources and structures, including the Justice Development and Peace Commission, (JDPC) and the Catholic Social Teaching for mobilization of all sectors of the populace, especially at the grassroots, for active participation in the electoral process.
- We shall stand with our people in their bid to choose the right leaders in the forthcoming elections and in their duty to hold such leaders accountable.
- We shall continue to do all we can to assure our youth of our closeness to them. While we understand their anger and share in their concern, frustration and disappointment, we appeal to all to eschew violence both in words and action.
- We shall constantly remind our people to look beyond divisive issues and political affiliations and choose rather people with records of integrity, honesty, accountability, selfless service, judicious management of public resources and closeness to the people.
- We recommit ourselves to preserving the sacredness of the pulpit and liturgical services which should never be used for political campaigns.
- While respecting the provisions of Canon 287 & 2 which prohibits priests from participating in partisan politics, we urge our priests to do all in their power to ensure that Christ’s faithful are well educated and guided to fulfil their responsibility in the political arena.
As ministers of God and servants of the people, they were called on to continue to uphold prayer and fasting as our ultimate source of strength and as the tools for the realization of the above resolutions and the betterment of Nigeria. We invite the people of God to do the same.