And the church spoke with one voice
The peaceful protest was simultaneous across the country. Millions of faithful led by their bishops and clergy came out in solidarity to mourn their departed brothers and sisters in faith and to send a clear message to the perpetrators: enough is enough. I am talking about the recent solidarity rally embarked upon by Catholics from across the archdiocese and dioceses of Nigeria. Such a huge crowd of protesters was unprecedented. It was first of its kind in this part of the world. It is reminiscent of the Arab spring that brought down some governments in North Africa. The difference is that this was not political in nature. It was not meant to bring down any government. It was a peaceful protest by a peace loving people, expressing their deep dissatisfaction over the nagging insecurity problem in the country. No life was lost in the protest; no injury recorded. There was no hostility or clash involving them and the law enforcement agents. Decorum was the order of the day.
The organised manner the peaceful protests were conducted across the country speaks volume of the administrative prowess of the Catholic Church, unarguably one of the most organised human institutions in the universe. The Church does not just rush into issues. She takes her time and gives enough allowance for dialogue and consultation. And when she eventually speaks and acts, one cannot mistake the message. It is one of soberness and regrets; a call for re-addressing the imbalances that are gulping innocent lives in the land. The contents of the placards were self-explanatory: ‘No to killings’; ‘Enough is enough’; ‘Human life is valuable, stop the killings’; ‘End the Massacre of Nigerians,’ etc. What more can be said! The people of God cried out to God in one accord, imploring the hosts of heaven to come down and help our country Nigeria. They also implored the Federal and State governments to wake up and decisively bring the culprits to book.
When God’s people cry out for help, something usually happens. God does act. He may not send down fire instantly to consume, like was the case in the time of Elijah, but He will surely act. Our leaders should not disregard that peaceful protest as lacking in substance or inconsequential. Rather, they should humbly digest the message and act promptly to avert the wrath of God, Who abhors injustice. If I were the authority, I would put in place quick and effective machinery to look into the people’s grievances. I would not disregard the feelings of millions of Catholics spread across the country. It is true that the Church’s hierarchy does not dabble in politics, but don’t take them for granted. With the election year just around the corner, their voices and opinions are going to be very germane. May the souls of the 19 Martyrs buried three weeks ago, and those of other departed faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.
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