Owerri (Agenzia Fides) - More than 300 bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful from the nine Ecclesiastical Provinces of the Nigerian Church took part in the V National Missionary Congress (NAMICON V) organized by the Pontifical Mission Societies of Nigeria and the Department of Mission and Dialogue of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria.
The National Missionary Congress usually takes place every four years and the last one took place in Benin City (Edo State) in 2019. The theme that served as a common thread throughout the four days of the Congress was "Do not be afraid, for I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10). The topic is topical in light of the condition the country is experiencing, in which many people move forward in fear, especially due to socio-economic instability and insecurity.
The Bishop of Yola, Monsignor Stephen Dami Mamza, encouraged everyone to continue to spread and bear witness to the Gospel despite the complex trials that the country is going through and always remembering that "we must not fear because the Lord is with us until the end of time".
The final resolution drawn up at the end of the conference, which consists of six points, reads: "The aim of the Congress is to remind every Christian of the missionary responsibility of every baptized person, despite the trials that this entails; it was also an opportunity to take stock of how things have gone for us as a Church since the last Congress. Following the security challenges we face daily in the country, which hinder missionary works and dampen missionary enthusiasm, the theme of this year's congress, 'Do not be afraid, for I am with you,' was indeed a clear call to remain steadfast, even in the midst of persecution, threats to life and missionary activities". One of the key points of the resolution was precisely that dedicated to security: Christians were invited to prepare for the trials, also making use of the right to self-defence, enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Furthermore, emphasis was placed on eradicating insecurity in the country. In relation to this point, the great theme of persecution and the blood of martyrs as a fruitful seed of the Church was addressed. Recognizing as an established fact that martyrdom, by grace, can generate fruits of a good life in faith, the start of the process of canonization of people killed because they were Christians and in hatred of the faith by Boko Haram and bandits was encouraged.
Furthermore, the Church has been asked to reconsider its strategy for protecting its members from persecution. There is also space in the resolution for the theme of young people and their greater involvement in the ecclesial journey, as well as for a more aware and correct use of digital means. (EG) (Agenzia Fides, 18/11/2023)