LAGOS, Nigeria — The Catholic bishops of Nigeria have called on the priests and the lay faithful to make the Eucharist central to the life of the church rather than placing a premium on money or other transient things.
In a statement at the end of their weeklong plenary meeting, they also advised priests to always ensure that “monetary matters do not distract the faithful or detract from the solemnity of the celebration.”
Priests are to “celebrate the Eucharist as ‘servants’ of the mystery and not ‘masters’ of it,” the bishops said.
In their Aug. 27 statement, the bishops also condemned the increasing insecurity and violence in Nigeria and called on the government to show respect for the sanctity of human life with a more strategic commitment to the fight against insecurity. The bishops urged government officials to take full responsibility for the prevailing culture of violence and impunity in Nigeria.
“We recognize the efforts being made by government to fight insecurity in the land,” they added, appealing to the citizens to be law-abiding, vigilant, live by sound moral principles and shun violence and crime.
The bishops also urged all levels of government to make it easier for the church and the private sector to create job opportunities for the nation’s young people, which would help reduce insecurity and unrest. They said protests and struggles for self-determination in Nigeria were as a result of bad governance, injustice, inequity and unfairness in appointments and distribution of resources to parts of the country.
“We recognize the rights of peoples to self-determination; yet we emphasize that the exercise of such rights must be within the confines of the rule of law,” the bishops said. They urged government officials to ensure that protesters who were arrested received a fair trial.
Some in the nation’s southwest and southeast have been agitating for autonomy from Nigeria following waves of insecurity and the belief that the federal government has no solutions to it.
The bishops called for a fair and credible electoral process and criticized a recent National Assembly vote against electronic transmission of election results, saying it would “create an opening for further manipulation of electoral votes and lay the foundation for more conflicts in future elections.”
“We call on the National Assembly to reconsider its position in the light of world best practices,” the bishops said.