AFRICA/NIGERIA - Archbishop Obinna: "The poor are our treasure"

Saturday, 18 November 2017 poverty   discrimination   human rights   development   local churches   justice  

Eoghan Rice / Trócaire (CC)

Owerri (Agenzia Fides) - This Sunday in the parishes and then on November 29 in the Cathedral: in the Nigerian Archdiocese of Owerri, the "World Day of the Poor" is celebrated in two appointments. The first, explains Archbishop Anthony Obinna to Fides, will see all the parishes welcome the needy at Sunday Mass and then will offer lunch and give clothing. The second event will take place on Wednesday, 29th, for the dedication anniversary of the Cathedral. "We have decided to dedicate the poor to God", adds Mgr. Obinna – because they are our treasure of the Cathedral. We are expecting about 5,000 people, who after the Eucharistic celebration will have lunch in the Cathedral thanks to many faithful and volunteers who will prepare their meals. The doors are also open to the faithful of other religions and to those who live outside the diocese".
Archbishop Obinna notes that the poor are not only in the territory of the Archdiocese, but throughout Nigeria. "Because of the economic situation – he adds - many have lost their jobs and are in a state of poverty. Every week I meet about two hundred young men who ask for food or money to finance some activities in order to start again". For Mgr. Obinna this first Day of the Poor confirms the faithful to continue the commitment that the diocese has always been pursuing, following the path of prayer and the Eucharist, that of charity for the poor, thanks to periodic gatherings of solidarity with the initiative called "Eu Care" ("Eucharistic care for the needy").
As reported by the Nigerian National Statistical Office, about 112 million Nigerian citizens live below the poverty line, with a population of 186 million, and it is said that the richest man in the country, Aliko Dangote, earns 8,000 times more each day compared to a poor compatriot. According to analysts, income inequality is one of the most important challenges in Nigeria. A new global index, carried out by Oxfam and "Development Finance International", puts Nigeria at the top of a list of 152 countries classified according to their "commitment to reducing inequality". (ER-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 18/11/2018)