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The Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma has called on Catholic Bishops in Nigeria to intensify their prayers for peace and progress in the country in general and in particular, for a peaceful conduct of election in state come 11th of November.
While delivering his speech at the 5th National Mission Congress of Nigeria (NAMICON) taking place at Assumpta Cathedral Owerri, Uzodinma further appealed to the clergy not to relent in chastising politicians when they err and to commend them when they do the right thing, ‘with the development around the globe all eyes are on Nigeria as the spiritual light of the world.’
The four- day event holding from October 24 to October 27 has the theme: ‘Fear not, for I am with you.’
The Imo governor, who expressed happiness over the timing of the congress, coming close to the governorship election in the state next month appealed to the priests to use their spiritual positions to pray for the will of God to prevail in the election.
‘Pray for a peaceful election that will glorify God,’ he said and assured the people that his administration would continue to support the Church in all her activities as well as facilitate the mission of the Church across the globe.
The governor also noted that National Mission Congress of Nigeria has a link with the vision the Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis envisaged for the Church, acknowledging that the event also resonates with his administration’s objectives.
He told the faithful: ‘It behoves on all of us to win souls through our various activities, be it inside or outside government and I believe that both spiritual and temporal ordinances of our work will speak for us.’
Governor Uzodinma used the opportunity to commend the clergy over their interventions and courage in speaking the truth to power by way of counseling or advising them and urged them to continue to ‘chastise politicians when they go wrong and commend them when they do right.’
In his welcome address, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Lucius Ugorji delivered by the Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese, Most Rev. Dr. Moses Chikwe, the Archbishop regretted that Nigerian Christians are living in fear and worry as a result of insecurity, gradual wiping out and or sacking of Christians from their homes, fear about the economy, bad governance, injustice, corruption and political agony.
He called on Christians to assume the position of missionaries in the country, working with that mindset based on the diverse evils they have experienced on daily basis.
The Archbishop added that most families in today’s Nigeria are bothered by many negative situations such as injustice, divisions, wars and lack of peace which can only come through the salvation in Christ.
He reminded the clergy that the current societal challenges are like raw materials they needed to do their work and prayed that the spiritual gathering will be used to ‘renew, reinvigorate and empower’ them to ‘proclaim Christ without fear.’
In a keynote address, the Episcopal Chairman, Mission and Dialogue, Most Rev. Stephen Dami Mamza, noted that the National Mission Congress of Nigeria is held every four years and used to remind the Catholic faithful of their role in praying for the society.
He said that the theme: ‘fear not for I am with you,’ is apt and coming at a time ‘when people are facing a lot of threats to lives, unfavorable political decision and are even afraid of the judiciary which is supposed to be the last hope of the common man.’
Regardless of all the ills, the Chairman reiterated: ‘God is saying fear not, for I am with you.’
Bishop Mamza emphasised that “human beings are already living with fear as an integral part of human existence,” and that the “time we are into demands that we be more united, integrated and strengthened to fight against the orchestrated fears.”
He pointed out that the Church is encouraged to be courageous, have trust and faith and be resilient to overcome all fears.