The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria conclude their plenary assembly in Abuja, which focused on pastoral care, collaboration with the State, and the role of religious congregations.
By Sr. Titilayo Aduloju, SSMA
The second plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) for 2023 came to an end on Friday in Abuja.
During their 7-15 September meeting, the Bishops emphasized the importance of synodality, morality, and opposing prejudice.
The Bishops at a session
They also discussed Nigeria’s challenges, including security issues and economic struggles, and encouraged faith in God among the laity.
Interactive sessions with the major superiors and laity
Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi, the Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, described the work of the Bishops in a brief shared with Vatican News.
He said, the Bishops held an interactive session with the Major Superiors of Religious Congregations in Nigeria, stressing that “the religious are not aliens in every local Church but are full members of the one Family of God journeying together.”
Male & Female Religious at the Plenary
The CBCN president, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, praised the religious congregations for their tremendous contributions in different areas of their apostolate to the building up of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, particularly in the remotest part of the nation.
According to the Secretary General, the bishops also encouraged the lay faithful of Abuja province, affirming that wherever they are in the world, they should bear witness to the Gospel values.
“The apostolate of the lay faithful is to represent Christ and his Church in the family and civil world,” he added.
The Laity at the Plenary
The Bishops also called on the laity to be agents of renewal and change in our world and leaven of society, whether they are members of the political elite, government employees, professionals, or businessmen and women.
Synodality: journeying together of the Church as a family
During the plenary, Nigeria’s Bishops reaffirmed the concept of synodality in its ancient and historical sense of journeying together as the family of God as different from the understanding of the Church as a tent.
The Bishops expressed their belief that synodality is “walking together of the Church as family underlives the need for the various local Churches to bear in mind the importance of the deposit of our faith.”
The Bishops emphasised that morality must be founded on ideals that are independent of individual perspectives while opposing all forms of prejudice and persecution.
Fr. Samjumi further stated that, according to the Bishops, “any rejection of human values as created by God would ultimately lead to the rejection of the existence of a Creator – God and an affirmation of the radical nihilistic anthropological and moral relativism that is characteristic of the postmodernist culture inspired by Nietzsche”.
Bishops’ highlights on the state of the nation
On the current state of the nation, the Bishops shared their thoughts on how religion has frequently been exploited as a weapon for tyranny, violence, division, and manipulation in Nigeria.
The plenary assembly also highlighted the nation’s ongoing security issues, faltering economy, and growing hardship among its people.
The Bishops implored the Church’s laity to take the initiative and live as living examples of the common good.
Finally, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria reaffirmed their dedication to safeguarding the deposit of the faith and constructively influencing the life of the Universal Church.
The Bishops at Mass during the plenary