Theme: Choose Today Whom You Will Serve
Preamble and Thanksgiving
We, members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, comprising of Ibadan Archdiocese, Ondo, Ilorin, Oyo, Ekiti and Osogbo Dioceses thank God for His blessings over us, our Dioceses and our country, Nigeria, since we last met in January 2015. We thank God for bringing our country and peoples through the national elections during the year and we appreciate God’s goodness for the hope and vigour which the outcome therefrom has restored in our nation. We pray that our hopes and aspirations for a greater Nigeria where peace, truth and justice thrive may be realized in the current administration. Having prayerfully deliberated here on matters of concern to our Church and our nation, we issue the following Communique:
1. The ongoing Year for the Consecrated Life
We congratulate all Consecrated Persons again on the celebration of the ongoing Year for the Consecrated Life which will end on 2nd February, 2016. As a theme, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has asked all Consecrated Persons to “Wake up the World”. In the opening paragraph of his Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consacrata, St. John Paul II also wrote: “By the profession of the evangelical counsels the characteristic features of Jesus — the chaste, poor and obedient one — are made constantly ‘visible’ in the midst of the world and the eyes of the faithful are directed towards the mystery of the Kingdom of God already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven”. We urge our Consecrated people to diligently work towards the realization of these deep and pertinent words of the Popes. In doing this, our entire Province and the world will be pervaded with the rich fragrance of God’s love and mercy.
2. The Pro-Life and Family Life Conference
We express gratitude to God and to all who contributed to the success of the Ibadan Provincial International Pro-Life and Family Life Conference held in April 2015 at the Pope John Paul II Centre, Seat of Wisdom Chaplaincy, University of Ibadan. The echoes of the conference have continued to reverberate in our Parishes and even beyond Nigeria. We enjoin all the Delegates, Institutions and Dioceses to continue to infuse the grassroots and the general public with the life-enhancing fruits of the exercise. We must continue to bear courageous witness to the love of God for humanity by sending his only Son that all might be saved. We commit ourselves to hosting more of such conferences to positively animate and energise our Church and society in order to safeguard them from anti-life ideologies and activities.
3. The Recent National World Youth Day
We congratulate our young people on the recent National World Youth Day Celebration with the theme, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy”, held in the Archdiocese of Benin City. We thank the Archbishop and the Archdiocese for hosting thousands of our young people in such a commendable manner. We urge our youth to positively respond to the theme of the eminent gathering. Too often, young people today are accused of violence, delinquency and sundry misdemeanour. We challenge our Catholic youth to spearhead the effort to change that impression, especially with the wave of the renewed hope in Nigeria. We ask them to strive to become credible agents of change and apostles of God’s mercy to families, to our country and to the world. This must be done through a positive engagement with modern media and a deliberate commitment to good morals and behaviours. We ask them to remember in all their dealings that honesty remains the best policy and a hallmark of faith and Christianity.
4. The Synod on the Family
As the Universal Church draws closer to the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, we urge our people to continue to pray fervently for the successful outcome of the event. We call on all the Delegates to the Synod to courageously bear witness to the plan of God for humanity in creating man and woman and the family relationship. In the face of strong opposition, the world today will greatly benefit from the confirmation of the understanding of marriage as a union of a man, woman and by God’s grace, children. We restate our unmitigated belief in the sanctity of Human Life and Family Life. We emphasize that it is the duty of civil authorities to ensure that all human life is protected from conception to natural end. Society must do everything possible to facilitate the growth of family living as a way of promoting responsible parenthood, good upbringing of children and reducing juvenile delinquency.
5. Governance and the Desire for a new Nigeria
We note the renewed hope for a new Nigeria generated in our country since the last general elections. We thank Almighty God for the relatively limited violence and bloodshed during the exercise. We call on our compatriots to cooperate with the current administration to bring sanity back into our country by showing common determination to reject corruption, nepotism, favouritism and to enthrone in our country a regime of justice and equity, where merits are respected and the rule of law exalted.
Nigeria has been recognised as one of the most religious countries in the world. Yet our prayers can only truly be answered if we do the will of God as He has commanded. We therefore say to all our compatriots in the words of Joshua the son of Nun: “….Choose today whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in Mesopotamia….as for me and my household, I will serve Yahweh (Joshua 24:15).
Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye
Archbishop of Ibadan Bishop of Ekiti