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Jun 14, 2019


The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has called for the collaboration of all religious leaders to liberate religion from the claws of manipulators who use it for godless and selfish purposes.  He described true Religion as a great asset to any nation, irrespective of the faith belief of individuals; because “it facilitates truth, honesty, solidarity and care for one another”.

Cardinal Onaiyekan made this assertion in his homily at the funeral Mass for Most Rev. Kevin Aje, the late emeritus Bishop of Sokoto Diocese. The ceremony took place recently at the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, Sokoto, Sokoto State. The funeral Mass and burial ceremony was attended by dignitaries from all walks of life, including a high powered delegation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN); led by its President, Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akubeze.

 The Cardinal however warned that religion cannot play its statutory role if it is encumbered and manipulated for political, ethnic and other narrow minded interests. He described these encumbrances as the challenge before humanity, especially “men and women of faith in God”.

His words: “This challenge falls especially upon those of us who claim to be religious leaders. The challenge is to join hands to liberate religion in Nigeria from the grip of those who are holding it hostage, and manipulating its power for selfish and godless interests.

Speaking on the life and times of the deceased, Cardinal Onaiyekan described him as a role model and pioneer in many ways. He noted that the late Bishop Aje was “among the early group of zealous lay apostles who worked with the foreign missionaries, most of the time carrying much of the burden of the day, reaching out directly to the most remote places to bring into the Christian fold people at the grass root levels.”

He continued: “… he was a true man of God, with deep conviction and generous heart. Once he puts his hands on the plough, he never looked back. As a pioneer Nigerian priest in his days, he became an effective role model to many young men who were later to follow his footsteps.”

Cardinal Onaiyekan  outlined the achievements of the deceased as the pioneer indigenous bishop of the diocese of Sokoto stressing: “Carried on the wings of the Holy Spirit and empowered by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, he tended the flock of God in Sokoto for almost 30 years, handing over to his successor a stabilized and forward looking diocese. He described the late Bishop Aje as “a living expression of the Catholic doctrine on religious diversity under one God”.

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