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The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship, Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor, has decried the spate of the abduction and killing of priests in Nigeria in the last few weeks.
Ezeokafor, who spoke to journalists on Sunday, expressed dismay over the rampancy of such news across the country, emphasising that anyone who kills a priest, has killed Christ a second time.
He said it was clear that some unscrupulous elements were behind the act, noting that war had been tacitly declared against the Catholic Church with her priests, religious and laity, as their major targets.
‘Catholic priests are Christ’s representatives on earth. Killing them amounts to killing Christ a second time. Catholic priests should be respected. They made the greatest sacrifice here: no wife, no children, no heir, nobody to succeed them when they are gone. What other sacrifice is greater or costlier than that?
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‘You are abducting and killing them because they are doing Christ’s work on earth? What wrong have they done? It is really abominable to maim a priest. Why go after a hapless servant of God? Someone who has left everything for the sake of God’s people. Priests deserve to be protected, encouraged and motivated.
‘Their cries will reach the heavens and the heavens will fight their battles. Nigeria’s Government should be very careful. Their usual silence over these killings and abduction of Catholic priests simply shows that they are enjoying it. They should remember that God’s anger will definitely descend on Nigeria’s government if it continues to play the ostrich.
‘I am seriously troubled. I am pained. I cannot keep quiet. I will continue to talk. Catholic priests should be appreciated for leading in everything good. They sacrificed their all. They are not after ministerial appointments or contracts. Why go after them?’ Bishop Ezeokafor queried.
Speaking on the decision to field a Muslim-Muslim ticket by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Ezeokafor said it was unacceptable in a secular state like Nigeria, describing it as height of insensitivity and wickedness.
‘You cannot come to a state like Nigeria with many different religions and be talking about Muslim-Muslim ticket. Are they saying that there is no competent Christian in the north? I’m sure there are many of them, even the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, is a Christian. They choose to ignore him and many others Christians in the North.
‘There must be balance in everything. These are some of the things that are causing so much agitation here and there. Nigerians should rise and condemn it. Nigeria is not a Moslem country. We have two major religions; Christianity and Islam. There are others too. Why settle for one religion if you do not have a hidden agenda?,’ he queried.