Nigerian Urges Catholics in Politics to Follow Church's Social Teaching

Abuja Archbishop Warns Them Not to Promote Private Interests

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LAGOS, Nigeria, MARCH 14, 2003 (ZENIT.org-Fides).- Catholics entering politics should be guided by the Church's social teaching in the pursuit of justice and the common good, says the president of the Nigerian bishops' conference.



Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja made that observation at this week's plenary assembly of the country's Catholic bishops.

Forty-six bishops, priests, religious and civil leaders, including Senator Kanu Agabi, Nigeria's attorney general and Minister of Justice, who represented President Olusegun Obasanjo, attended the meeting with the theme "Seeking the Way of Peace."

The event focused on democracy and a lasting peace in Africa's largest country.

Regarding the forthcoming elections in April, Archbishop Onaiyekan said that committed Catholics "working in principled collaboration with other Nigerians with positive political intentions, will be contributing to the redeeming of our polluted political atmosphere whether they win the elections or not."

The archbishop admonished many Catholics in government who are also aspirants for re-election, to "firmly resist the obvious temptations to turn government machinery to serving partisan interests in favor of themselves and against their opponents."

He also mentioned the worrying international situation, and said "we need to pray earnestly for peace in our world to avoid war since 'war is a defeat for humanity,' as the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II has affirmed."

During the homily of the opening Mass, Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan said that the sad situation of Nigeria and the world, along with scandals, ethnic-tribal religious impositions, violence and terror, economic and moral poverty, and bad governance, "compels the children of the light to desire and seek the way of peace."

Social harmony and peace is a key challenge for Nigeria, whose 100 million-plus people belong to 250 ethnic groups and three religions, Christianity, Islam and animism.