A COMMUNIQUE ISSUED BY THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF THE LAGOS ECCCLESIASTICAL PROVINCE AT THE END OF THEIR FIRST MEETING OF THE YEAR 2022 HELD AT ST. AGNES CATHOLIC CHURCH, MARYLAND, LAGOS ON THURSDAY, 27TH JANUARY 2022
We, the Catholic Bishops of the Lagos Ecclesiastical Province, made up of the Archdiocese of Lagos, the Diocese of Ijebu-Ode and the Diocese of Abeokuta, held our first meeting for the year on Thursday January 27, 2022 at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos. The meeting was attended by the leadership and representatives of the Clergy, the Consecrated persons and the various Associations of the Lay Faithful who gave reports of their activities for the previous year under review.
After a careful deliberation on issues affecting the Church in the Province and the state of affairs in our country, Nigeria, we hereby issue the following communique:
1. Appreciation to God
We appreciate the mercy of the Almighty God, the giver of life for the privilege of seeing us through to the beginning of yet another year. We are aware that in a country like ours where the value of human life has been reduced to an abysmally all-time-low owing to insecurity and other criminality across the land, it is not a small feat for one to see a fresh year. Our prayer is that the good Lord will continue to send his angels to protect us from all dangers and evil.
2. Towards an End to the COVID-19 Pandemic
We thank Him for the modest success so far achieved by the relevant authorities locally in curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 and its various variants despite the very negative consequences predicted by health experts and scientists. The fact that our land has witnessed very limited casualties in the past two years is no doubt a sign of divine providence. However, it also challenges us to take time to examine and identify the peculiar variables that may have helped to reduce the effects of the virus compared to Europe and America.
Consequently, while we call for continuous vigilance and strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols by all and sundry, we also wish to advocate for improved government funding of our research agencies/institutions to equip and empower our local scientists and health professionals to rise up to the challenge of producing potent locally manufactured remedies/vaccines that, considering our peculiarity and atmospheric condition would help put a final stop to the COVID-19 and other viruses.
3. The Synod of Synodality
In October 2021, the Holy father unveiled the Synod of Synodality, which inspires a process of listening to one another and to the Holy Spirit as we journey together as a Church. We are happy to note that this synodal process which is intended to bring about a better understanding of how we can better work together as a people of God has commenced earnestly in the various dioceses in our Province.
We commend all the priests, religious and lay persons in positions of leadership who, as facilitators have been working assiduously to ensure that the activities expected of the synodal process are being carried out across all the parishes and mass centers in the Province. We urge them to re-commit themselves to ensuring that the synodal exercise is completed within the allotted time in conformity with the wishes of the Holy Father.
4. Call for Active Participation in Politics
We note that a wave of political maneuvering ahead of next year’s National elections have commenced across the country. As the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gets set to release its time table, we call on all eligible Nigerians to be active players in the political field by registering themselves with the political parties of their choice and ensuring that their voices are heard. Equally, we urge the electorate not to sit on the fence but to ensure that they get their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) ready and to vote at the elections so as to choose credible leaders of their choice that will ensure the growth and progress of our country, Nigeria.
We call on the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of the Province and the various Dioceses to synergize with other relevant Church institutions to organize series of seminars and workshops geared at getting the electorate to be more alive to their responsibilities ahead of the coming elections.
5. Better Synergy Among the Laity
We commend the high level of coordination and commitment exhibited by the leadership of the Laity Council in the Province of Lagos in the past year as exemplified in the various projects executed and their unalloyed support to the clergy. We wish to see a better synergy between the Laity Council and other lay groups in the Church such as Papal Knights and other Associations such as Knights of Mulumba, KSM and Knights of St. John International, KSJI. Such a synergy will no doubt consolidate further on the gains so far achieved and usher in more robust collaborative engagements in our quest to work for the greater glory of God.
6. Appreciating Mr. Folu Adekoya
We congratulate the immediate past National President of the Laity Council of Nigeria, Mr. Folu Adekoya from our Province for his record of achievements as President of National Laity Council in the past four years. From available records, Mr. Adekoya left the office much better than he met it. The entire Lagos Province wishes you the very best in your future endeavors.
7. Congratulations to Bishop Emmanuel Badejo
We felicitate with Most Rev. Emmanuel Badejo, Bishop of Oyo diocese on his recent appointment by the Holy Father to serve in the Pontifical Dicastery on Social Communications. This appointment is no doubt a clear attestation of the fact the Church in Nigeria is growing in leaps and bounds. We have no doubt that this appointment will usher in remarkable opportunities for further growth in the activities of the Communications Apostolate in the Church.
8. Commiseration on the Demise of Bishop Paul Olawoore
We commiserate with the clergy, the religious and the entire lay faithful of the Diocese of Ilorin and indeed the Catholic Church in Nigeria over the recent demise of the bishop of the diocese, Most. Rev. Paul Olawoore. Bishop Olawoore, while on earth, dedicated his whole life to the propagation of God’s kingdom and for the upliftment of God’s children. We pray that the good Lord will grant his soul eternal rest in His bosom. We also pray that He grants the good people of Ilorin Diocese the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss.
9. Increased Violence and Needless Killings
We regret to note that despite the wide outcry of condemnation that have greeted the continuous senseless killings of innocent lives and other wave of violence across the country, it is far from being abated. For instance, in the wake of the 2022 New Year, a priest of the Diocese of Abeokuta, Rev. Fr. Luke Adeleke was killed by unknown gun men while carrying out his priestly activities. Very recently, it was reported that in Taraba State a Catholic Church was razed to the ground for no reason. These and numerous other cases of violence have been the hallmark of our nation. How long would these be allowed to continue. We will continue to call on the government to utilize all the state resources at their disposal to put an end to these dastardly acts of killing and violence across the country before it consumes everyone.
10. Conclusion: Finally, we encourage all Nigerians to look to the future with hope and faith in our nation backed up with the power of prayer which is able to change things for the better.