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Sunday 8 August 2021

Are Igbo Catholic Bishops Household Enemies?

 Are Igbo Catholic Bishops Household Enemies?

In the struggle for Biafra restoration and indeed the liberation of all Biafrans, so many things have actually come to limelight. Prominent among them, are the dispositions of diverse groups and peoples as they affect the continuous existence of a freed Igboland and its egalitarian people, who find themselves up against the worst kind of political conspiracy. This conspiratorial agenda which is being engineered by Fulani terrorist groups and bandits in collaboration with Fulani led Nigerian government, have set out to terrify, silence, subjugate and possibly, destroy them. In such a defining moment as this, the collective stance of Igbo Catholic Bishops, matter a great deal.

The questions then are: Have the Catholic bishops been as involved in the affairs of the Igbos, as they have been involved in promoting Catholic Church across the globe? In a period when one must take a definitive stand concerning the ongoing genocide in the land, have they in any definitive way, shown proportional discontent and rage or simply run with the hare and hunt with the hounds? By short reports, could they have been the metaphorical sinkhole in which all efforts toward full liberation of the  Igbos in conjunction with forestalling the devilish plot of Fulani Jihadistic conquest, drift away?

In terms of political outspokenness, the Catholic bishops seem amateurish in their approach. The Islamic Clerics have boldly taken their religious duties up a notch, serving as mediators between the Nigerian government and their armies of Fulani bandits and terrorists, in most cases, sermonizing the public about the rightness of their criminalities. Their role in this scheme of jihadistic conquest as it were, is to go above and beyond in the defense of whatever crimes that are being committed by their terrorist brethren, which often characterize them as mere juvenile delinquencies requiring public sympathy and rehabilitation. And no matter how gruesome their crimes may be, these clerics have shown precision, consistency, application and boldness in their defense.

Then across the aisle occupied by young innocent and industrious Igbo youths, most of whom are Catholics by faith, is a relentless rollercoaster of harassments, assaults and deaths in the hands of the Nigerian Security Operatives. Surprisingly, their Catholic Bishops amongst other Christian clerics unlike their Islamic counterparts, are found disturbingly silent, while a few of them who do speak up perhaps once in a while, do so in an antiseptic, clinical, measured tone that only makes for the television. 

Overall, Igbo Catholic bishops have hitherto failed to transform, even remotely, their high religious offices into a potent voice for the struggle of their people and even more sadly, they have scantily decried the slaughter of their youths, etcetera, by the Nigerian state. Their listless voice is suspect. It goes against the logical reaction of leaders whose people are routinely, viciously, willfully and heinously cut down under their watch. 

These therefore, beg the question of whether Catholic bishops see their faithfuls only as a field to plow and their money as a crop to harvest. Or could it be that their general take is to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs? To be clear, Igbos are synonymous with Catholicism in Africa at least, by preponderance of membership, parishes and priestly ordinations. This is a fact. Around the world, six out of ten black Catholic Priests are Igbos. And about five out of ten African Catholics are Igbos. In short, Catholicism is a State religion for the Igbos. And in the areas of position, speaking of clerical hierarchy, Igbos are highly placed. After all, the highest ranking Cardinal of African descent is an Igboman by the name, Francis Arinze and alongside him are legions of Bishops and Archbishops who pontificate across the depth and breadth of Igboland and beyond.

The Catholic church which is the acclaimed mother to all, had in the past cared for the Igbo race hence it's major acceptance among the people. For a better understanding of their deep romance with Roman Catholicism, Igbo language is officially recognized and respected at the seat of the Catholic Church at the Vatican. At different occasions when the Pope visited Nigeria, even the United States of America, one of the bible readings was recited in Igbo language. This evidently, speaks to the pivotal place Igbos occupy in the heart of the Catholic Church. At any turn, like Latin America, Igbos are in the forefront of planting and teaching the Catholic faith across the great plains of the world's six continents, with devotion and sacrifice even in the face of great political marginalization and economic sabotage. 

Therefore, in these dire times that our collective existence is constantly and gravely being threatened and with our right to walk freely on our ancestral lands even in peril, we need the Catholic Church to reciprocate our age-long virtues, drawing essentially upon her global religious and political connectedness to place Igbos' struggles in the constant view of the world. Also, the Igbo Catholic Bishops must take over the field in the fight for Biafra restoration and more so, in raising their voices loud enough to the breaking of all prison bars behind which Igbo youths are illegally being abducted, killed, detained and tortured. 

For them to truly prove their stand with their people, with whom their ecclesiastical authorities lie, Igbo Catholic Bishops must borrow a leaf from the freedom book of Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who, against fierce oppositions and threats of death, spoke vehemently against the apartheid regime, working in various capacities to return political power to the black South African citizens. Similarly, Martin Luther King Jnr., a Christian cleric, at the psychological moment, delved headlong into activism for the emancipation of Black Americans. 

Of course, his end is a public knowledge, haven paid the ultimate price for freedom that the blacks are enjoying today in the United States of America. Finally, the Igbo Catholic bishops must practically prove that they stand with their Igbo brethren as it is both morally and politically right in this turbulent times. Otherwise, if the existence of the Igbo race is of no importance to them, it would equally be morally right and justified for the people to consider boycotting the Catholic church in it’s entirety. The Church must be the light which she was explicitly commanded to be.

Written by Chima Ono

Edited by Chukwuemeka Okechukwu

For Family Writers Press International

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