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Thursday, 24 January 2013

CBCN Vs CAN: Did Catholic Bishops pull out of CAN?



CBCN Vs CAN: Did Catholic Bishops pull out of CAN? - The media is currently carrying various reports on the alleged withdrawal of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella of Christian Churches in Nigeria. This alleged withdrawal is as a result of the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the letter written by the CBCN to the leadership of CAN on 24 September 2013 which was made public yesterday, Wednesday 23 January 2013.

According to the letter signed by Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Jos and the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) is temporarily suspending “participation in CAN meetings at the National level until such a time the leadership of CAN reverse back to the original vision, mission and objectives of CAN”. The letter went further to state that the temporal suspension was “over some recent attitudes, utterances and actions of the national leadership of CAN which in our opinion negate the concept of the foundation of the association and the desire of Our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu the secretary general of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria in an interview with The Guardian Newspaper maintained that the CBCN did not pull out of CAN and that the body was only trying to sort out some issues with the national Christian body. He mentioned that the body only withdrew temporarily from CAN, which will only last for few weeks, adding that there was no squabble between the two religious bodies. He went on to add that the CBCN will always be in support of the national body and that even some Catholic bishops are heading CAN in some states.

However, as a response to this, the leadership of CAN has offered several criticisms against the Catholic Church instead of looking into the issues raised by the letter. The Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor-led administration in a response claims that the Catholic Bishops are threatening with withdrawal because of their inability to retain the leadership of the association. Besides, he went on to say that Catholics do not like to be under others and as such want to withdraw. He also denied the involvement of his administration in partisan politics and even claimed that the Cardinal John Onaiyekan-led administration was more supportive of the PDP government than his.

Reactions from the media suggest however, that the current leadership of CAN has not really witnessed to the true spirit of Christian unity and ecumenism. Besides, there are indications that the public is not comfortable with the manner the CAN president is portraying his identity and upholding his integrity. This came to limelight when he got a new private jet as gift from unknown donors. More still, he has often been accused of being divisive in the way he is running the association, often making comments in support of the People’s Democratic Party-led federal government and President Goodluck Jonathan. Some Christians believe he has pushed CAN into ignominy with his utterances and actions making Nigerians to regard the association as an arm of the PDP.

Below is a copy of the letter:

 

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