Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "The Nigerian state seems to be on the verge of collapse", says a statement on the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in 2023, sent to Agenzia Fides, signed by the Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Abuja, Fr. Zaccaria Samjumi; by the Director of Pastoral Affairs, Fr. Michael Banjo; and by the Director of the Church and Society section, Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina.
The statement recalls the existence everywhere "of conflicts of varying magnitude and importance: from attacks by unknown gunmen throughout the southeast, to the insurgency in the northeast with the killing of innocent civilians which continues unabated". The massacre at St. Francis Church in Owo, Ondo State, committed on Sunday, June 5 (see Fides, 6/6/2022) "has given a new dimension to the massacre taking place in our country", it is emphasized.
Added to the massacres are kidnappings for the purpose of extortion, of which several priests and religious are also victims, instability in the "Middle Belt", "food shortages and growing inflation" which lead to "hunger and misery everywhere", and strikes in universities which leave young people "without direction or purpose". "Is it any wonder that there are so many cases of crime, violence and unhealthy activities among young people?" the signatories ask.
Faced with this state of affairs, politics seems distracted by the electoral campaign: "The political class is totally committed to aligning itself with new political positions in view of the elections". The authors of the declaration, however, call on the faithful not to despair and refrain from participating in the political process, starting with registering on the electoral list and applying for a Permanent Voter's Card (PVC). In this regard, the Catholic Secretariat commends priests who encourage the faithful to request the PVC but warns overzealous priests who prevent the faithful without voters' cards from attending Mass. "However, in seeking to encourage everyone to obtain PVC, care must be taken not to deprive people of the means that Christ, through the Church, has made available to them for food and Salvation of their souls," the statement said. "The Church therefore does not endorse the practice of pastors of souls barring the faithful of Christ from public worship because they do not have their PVC. The faithful should not be denied communion or any other sacrament of the Church for the same reason. Priests who act in this way violate the laws of the Church, which clearly define the circumstances in which the faithful can be legitimately deprived of these spiritual goods. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 22/6/2022)