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June 24, 2024

Onaiyekan to Nigerians: Speak out against injustice, silence is complicity

Onaiyekan

Onaiyekan

By Luminous Jannamike

Cardinal John Onaiyekan, former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, has urged Nigerians to speak out against injustice, warning that silence was tantamount to complicity.

Cardinal Onaiyekan spoke at the inauguration of the Catholic Social Teaching, CST, programme at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN, in Abuja weekend.

He emphasized the importance of actively working against social injustices, noting that the Catholic Church had a responsibility to teach the right things, even if it meant facing criticism from politicians.

The Emeritus Archbishop said:  “As Catholic Bishops, we are often interviewed and make powerful political statements. Nobody can stop us from doing that because it is part of our job. We have a responsibility to teach the right things, even if it means facing criticism from politicians.

“We cannot afford to remain silent in the face of injustice. Silence is complicity, and we must speak out against injustice wherever we see it.

“Whenever we speak nicely, politicians hail us, but when we criticize them and warn them that they are not doing well, they get angry with us, accusing us of dabbling in politics. But politics is not for politicians alone; it’s for everyone.

“We teach the right things, but it’s up to those concerned to take the teaching and work on it. We don’t have the facility to force politicians to do the right thing; we only have the word of mouth, our message.

“Even Jesus taught for three years, and it was the same people he taught who rallied around and crucified Him on the cross. They heard His message, but they didn’t take it. It’s the same today: those who listen to good wisdom will do well, and the people will profit from them.

“Those who don’t listen and do wrong will suffer, and they will answer for their actions before the judgment seat of God, which is not far away. People are dying every day and facing God’s judgment.

“We must continue to proclaim the message of social justice loudly and clearly, as the Catholic Church has a long tradition of teaching. We must work towards creating a more just and equitable society, and we must act to make it happen.”

Rev. Fr. Uche Obodoechina, Director of the Department of Church and Society, explained that the CST programme was designed to equip staff of the Bishops’ agencies with comprehensive knowledge of CST, enabling them to teach others and spread the message.

According to him, the programme aims to empower Catholics to become agents of social change.

Obodoechina, who also serves as the Executive Secretary of the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, CCFN, stated:  “We want to empower Catholics to become agents of social change, able to apply the principles of CST in their daily lives.

“Our goal is to create a ripple effect of knowledge and awareness that will impact communities and society at large.

“We want to inspire Catholics to work for justice and peace, and to build a society that values human dignity, solidarity, and the common good.”

Prof. Hyacinth Ichoku, the Vice Chancellor of Veritas University, emphasized in his keynote address that everyone had a role to play in promoting social justice, regardless of their status.

He argued that the CST programme would address social concerns, including politics, healthcare, climate change, education, and social inequalities.

Ichoku said:  “Everyone has a role to play in promoting social justice, regardless of their status or position. We all have a responsibility to work towards creating a more just and equitable society.

“We need to work together to build a society that values human dignity, solidarity, and the common good. We must address the social concerns of our time, like politics, healthcare, climate change, education, and social inequalities.”

Mr. Joe Nkamuke, speaking on behalf of the graduates, assured that they would spread the CST knowledge they had gained, adding that they were committed to using their knowledge to make a positive impact in their communities.

“We promise to open the Pandora’s box for others to see. We will share the knowledge we have gained with others and inspire them to join us in working for social justice,” he said.