Apparition: Okogie warns Christians to be careful
… Says They Should Prove It
Recently, there have been claims by some people that they saw an apparition that bears a great resemblance to the image of Jesus Christ. Christians are not left out, as penultimate Monday at the Saint Augustine Catholic Church in Makurdi, Benue State, members and non-members trooped out to catch a glimpse of what they asserted to be an apparition of Jesus Christ.
The Guardian sought the views of the Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos, Anthony Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie on the issue of apparition generally, and the man who will be 50 years as priest in December this year, described the said apparition as a mirage.
He said to the correspondent on phone: “what you are saying is news to me. Yes, I’m aware that a similar thing happened in Okpe, also in Benue State some years ago, but one has to be very careful with the way they declare apparitions. At times, the eyes don’t work well, when they see double, and they would tell you it is this or that. I think the church should be extraordinarily careful, especially in this age of technology and somebody would tell you I saw this or that. When people see such things, before you know it, they’ll start rushing to the place and you will hear them asking, ‘can’t you see that?’ I remember the one in Okpe… and some people are still going there. Up till now, the church has not said a word about it.”
When The Guardian tried to remind him of the frequency of similar events, for instance, the one that occurred in Edo State some years back, Okogie replied: “Did you hear what I said? Excuse me; this is the age of technology, so anything can happen in the atmosphere. If people don’t look well, the next thing you will hear is, ‘oh, look at Jesus. Can’t you see?’ And then you’ll try to configure your mind to see something that is not real. I agree with you that I have heard news about things like this many times.
“Now they said they saw blood. Did they actually see blood flowing? Did they touch the blood and use their hands to mop it? Did they carry out a proper investigation? For instance, did they take the blood to do forensic analysis, whether it was genuine or not? Any way, I don’t want to be one of those that will…it’s not fair.”
To further draw an analogy, the Cardinal compared the issue of apparition with that of those claiming they can perform miracles.
He said: “Similar things are happening in Christendom today, where a pastor or one General Overseer will tell you, ‘I can perform miracles.’ Meanwhile, they are just stage managing miracles. They would say: ‘Ah, you get up!’ This is after they would have rehearsed with the fellow on what to do and they call it miracle. All those claiming they can perform miracles, why can’t they help us to revamp our comatose economy that has been down for so long? Look at the rate of the Naira to the Dollar?”
“A good prophet would tell you what will happen and then guide you, if it is something that is going to be bad. But they would tell you something that is going to happen on Thursday, after they might have listened to the news, but then, they won’t tell you when it will take place.”
Has he ever seen an apparition since becoming a priest?
“I have never,” he replied. “And by December this year, I will be marking my 50th priestly ordination anniversary. All this while, all I have been hearing is news concerning such things. They should prove it, and let me see. If it is a miracle, what is the message that comes with it? What message does it bring? Miracles don’t just happen. Those who claim that they saw an apparition of Jesus, what was His message to us? We want to know. What did He say we should do and things like that?
“Please, my faith is not in that line. If it is real, you don’t even need to probe further or ask people. Somebody has to prove that this is real genuine human blood. Again, was there any declaration by Jesus in the apparition? These are the things we are looking for. Since the event occurred, has the Bishop in that locality said anything before they begin to carry the news all about? It may be a mirage after all.”
THE Guardian’s recent visit to St. Augustine Catholic Church, Nenger in Benue State, where many faithful within and outside the state had thronged to catch a glimpse of the Christ apparition, said to have occurred below the crucifix mounted on the altar, two weeks earlier, showed that many of them had left with different stories to tell.
The incidence, which started on August 7, 2016 at 3pm, lasted for almost a week and eventually disappeared, leaving late arrivals to the scene disappointed, as they left for their homes with only hearsays.
To the non-Catholics, it was mere figment of the imagination, as they strongly believed that what transpired at the church was only the creation of the Catholic sect.
The apparition was said to have occurred, when Catholic faithful, the sick, as well as some non-Catholic were at the scene, not just to see the snow-like image, but had scrambled to touch the crucifix with their right hands, while saying the Divine Mercy prayer.
Some of the church’s parishioners said about 10 of the visitors that touched the apparition in deep prayers fell down at the altar, though they regained consciousness after a short while.
The Guardian can authoritatively report that a similar apparition had taken place at another Catholic Church in Aokpe, Ogbadibo LGA of Benue State some years ago, which turned the village into a Christian pilgrimage ground that ended soon after the St Augustine’s incidence happened.
Though Bishop Wilfred Anagbe of the Catholic Diocese, and Father Celestine Tyowua, the Reverend Father in charge of St. Augustine Church, Nenger, refused to comment on the incidence, sources within the Catholic clergy confided in The Guardian that it signifies that Christ is still alive in the crucifix, and that Christians should continue to believe in Him for their salvation.
Some of the parishioners that spoke with The Guardian, including John Ator, Rebecca Jengba and Moses Atouche, all urged the Bishop of the Makurdi Diocese to give his approval for St. Augustine Church to become a prayer pilgrimage ground.