ABUJA, NIGERIA -
The President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama has called for collaboration among all stakeholders in the fight against vices that undermine the democracy of the country and cultural and religious prejudices that are making religious harmony and peaceful co-existence of the people difficult.
The Archbishop made this call in his homily during the opening Mass for the National Catholic Prayer Pilgrimage Vigil held at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, on Friday, June 1, 2012.
Archbishop Kaigama who is also the Metropolitan of Jos Archdiocese noted for the country to make reasonable progress in her quest for sustainable democracy and unity, \'Crucial issues must be addressed with civilized dispositions and maturity and not until blood is spilt.\' He added: \'We should worry that many people have to provide their electricity, water and even security or seek better education or healthcare abroad after 50 years of Independence.
Furthering on the vices that undermine the country\'s democracy the Archbishop said; \'Do we deny that there is money politics, selection rather than election, godfather patronage and that even some courts allegedly pronounce judgment in favour of the highest bidder?\'
Speaking on the clamour for a national conference by some people in the country, Archbishop Kaigama expressed the hope that \'it is to resolve such issues that defile our democracy rather than merely calling for dividing up the country or sharing the resources in favour of one group or the other.\'
The CBCN President also commented on the issue of corruption which has become an incurable cancer in all aspects of life in the nation\'s fabric. He said: \'Corruption has invaded the sacred spaces of religious institutions where emphasis is more on material prosperity. Corruption has killed more people than the latest upsurge of religious terrorism.\'
He continued: \'Corruption leads to strikes and many people die in hospitals; it denies pensioners their legitimate entitlements thus hastening their death or that of family members. It kills the intellect when schools are closed due to strikes\' it kills the soul as people lose the sense of sin or guilt believing that giving out money or taking it for favours is normal. From the child in the primary school, to the vegetable or petrol seller, messenger, clerk, elected and appointed officials, corruption has almost become a part of daily life. We are either active agents of corruption or indirect beneficiaries.\'
Speaking on the influence cultural and religious prejudices which vary from place to place, in different parts of the country, Archbishop Kaigama pointed out that these prejudices can be deep rooted and destructive adding: \'Those who have had such experience must pray for the grace to overcome hatred and bitterness.\'
Archbishop Kaigama also expressed concern on the tendency of fanaticism among Christians who profess one faith. He said: \'Even among Christians who profess one faith, one Lord and share the same Eacharistic bread and cup, tribal prejudices sometimes fuel a sense of superiority and we see very little good in others. We are also victims of fanaticism in the Church when for instance, members of one pious Church organization look-down on the members of another one, instead of seeing approaches to spirituality as complimentary.\'