By Biodun Busari
Plateau state governor and Director-General of the All Progressives Congress Campaign Council, Simon Lalong, has apologised to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria following his unpopular statement to the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
Lalong, while reacting to his recent appointment by the ruling APC to spearhead the presidential campaign of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said Pope has not disapproved his support for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
As a papal knight, his statement has been greeted with heavy criticism from Catholic faithful across the country, with some calling for his suspension from the church.
But while admitting his error in a letter to the CBCN president titled, “Letter of Apology” and dated August 12, 2022, Lalong begged for forgiveness and understanding from the Catholic Church through the Bishops’ conference.
The letter read in part, “While many people commended me for the appointment and saw it as a way of remaining within the system to fight for our own interests, others cast aspersions on it on the grounds that our faith had been insulted and denigrated.
“In the course of this, many of my opponents turned the issue into a political weapon with some spreading rumours and questioning the integrity of my credentials as a Catholic and a papal knight.
“During the week, in the course of defending myself, I had cause to make reference to my credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight. In the process, I made reference to the Holy Father.
“I now realise that this was an error on my part and has caused some level of concern and even embarrassment to many, especially the Members of the family of Papal Knights to which I belong.
“I now understand that I may have overreached myself in the course of trying to defend my personal decision in accepting this appointment and thus, the reference to the holy father was not intended as an act of disrespect to his exalted and revered office.
“Your Grace, by this written letter, I wish to tender my unreserved apologies and ask for their understanding and forgiveness from my brothers in the Catholic faith and, through you, the entire members of the bishops conference, our fathers and our leaders.”