Abuja, Nigeria, Mar 19, 2019 / 01:51 pm (CNA).- After a recent gathering, the Catholic bishops of Nigeria called on local residents and officials to promote the common good by fostering respect for the human person.
“We enjoin all Nigerians, leaders and the led, to abide by democratic principles such as respect for human life, human rights and the rule of law,” they said in a March 15 communique.
“We also encourage the electorate to ensure that those who hold public offices in our country are held accountable. We equally urge all Nigerians to eschew all forms of indiscipline and corruption and be resolute rather than lose hope in our struggle for a better future and nation.”
The bishops of Nigeria gathered in Durumi, Abuja, from March 10-16. The statement released by the bishops’ conference summarized the meeting, was signed by Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of Benin City and Bishop Camillus Umoh of Ikot-Ekpene.
At their plenary meeting, the bishops discussed the recent elections, which were primarily held Feb. 23 after a last-minute delay from the prior week.
In considering the goal of politics, the bishops stressed the importance of the common good, which must be founded in virtue – rooted not only in the practice of social justice but also a culture of life.
“The pursuit of this good must be based on the respect for the sanctity and dignity of human life and the equality of all people. The Common Good presupposes respect for the human person and requires the social well-being and development of the group itself,” the bishops said in their statement.
Also discussed in their meetings was the role of the Church in Nigerian to educate the laity, especially the youth. Catholic social teaching should be simplified and given in practical examples to ensure “an effective socio-political formation of all the people,” the bishops said.
They applauded the behavior of the electorate, who fulfilled their civic duties or accepted defeat without violence. However, they also expressed concern that there may be a trend toward apathy.
“We believe that this apathy may not have been unconnected with among other things, the violence, malpractice and the unnecessary militarization of the process, all of which contributed to eroding the people’s confidence in the electoral process.”
In the days and weeks surrounding the elections, areas including Kaduna State, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, Edo, Rivers, Zamfara, and Adamawa, underwent violent disturbances, the bishops said. They lamented the lack of concern for the human person, saying it was painful to see.
The bishops encouraged the government to uphold just policies. Their statement particularly called on officials to address the continuing dysfunction within the election process, which enabled the purchase of votes and the election quarrels.
They also challenged the officials to enact policies that take into account the needs of the people, especially the vulnerable, and most importantly, that are founded in a respect for the person.
“Governance worth its name is only possible where there is true justice, equality and peace. It demands virtues, such as, patience, modesty, moderation, charity and efforts to share. In governing, leaders have to focus on the Common Good and ensure that the people and their aspirations, both individual and collective, assume paramount importance.”
Especially during this season of Lent, the bishops said, the people of Nigeria have the opportunity to pray and fast to further Christian charity. They reiterated the words of Pope Francis, pointing to this holy season is an opportunity to learn to live as Children of God.
“As we sincerely seek the face of God, let us be steadfast in cultivating those virtues of decency and moral uprightness that will enhance the peace, the unity and the well-being of the whole nation,” they said.
“We must continue to pray to God to help us rediscover our common humanity, cultivate respect for one another, enthrone transparency and accountability in the use of our common patrimony and imbibe apostolic charity towards the poor and the vulnerable in the Church and society.”
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