Bishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos Catholic Archdiocese, has urged religious leaders to educate their followers on the need to coexist peacefully.
Kaigama gave the advice at the 2018 Chrism Mass on Wednesday in Jos.
Newsmen report that Chrism Mass opens up the last week of lenten observance, also known as the “holy week”.
According to Kaigama, seeds of discord have been planted in the minds of many Nigerians.
“Seeds of discord have been planted in the minds if many Nigerians; the onus lies on religious leaders to instill the virtue of love and peace in people’s heart.
“The religious leaders must educate their followers on the virtues of respect, love, forgiveness and justice. These attributes are key to achieving lasting peace in the country.
“The situation is scary; among Nigerians today, there are people who rejoice at the sight of a severed human heads, flowing human blood and burning human flesh.
“An urgent task for ministers across all religions is to convince our flock that beyond their narrow worldview, they should learn to see others as fellow human beings and treat them with respect, while encouraging a culture of forgiveness rather than the revenge mentality.
“Such revenge mentality degenerates into a circle of endless violence that results in the gruesome murder of innocent citizens.
“Amidst the rough and wild wind of conflicting ideologies and religious and political voices of hatred and violence, priests must lead people to love and reconciliation, instead of hatred and enmity.
“We need to emphasise, more often, the positive actions or values as well as our commonalities, instead of our differences. We must avoid paying attention to areas that hurt or leave us embittered,” he said.
The prelate urged Nigerians to desist from accusations and counter accusations that had often ignited crisis in the country.
He also urged people to stay away from sin so as not to incur the wrath of God on the land.
“Nigerians must stop the finger pointing and arise, like the prodigal son, and return to God the Father, in total repentance.
“Members of various tribes and religious adherents must acknowledge that all have sinned against one another and against God; they must accept that the only thing that will save us from destruction is when we begin to see God in one another because we are all made in the image and likeness of God.
“I am yet to see a Muslim who has ten fingers and a Christian who has fifteen fingers or a Christian with only one eye and a Muslim with three.
“I am also yet to see a single tribe that has the monopoly of intelligence and whose people live to be more than 150 years, while those supposed to be inferior live only 50 or 60 years.
“The point is that God made us all equal. Since that is so, why all the mud slinging, the competition for superiority, the futile attempt to forcefully convert others to one’s religion, not with exemplary conduct and good moral life, but with force and violence?” Kaigama asked
The Archbishop called on Nigerians to be near to God and show civility towards others irrespective of religious or cultural background.