Enough of these onslaughts against Catholic Priests
The Catholic Priesthood over the years has been an honorable vocation, with a unique feature and attributes; as such any family or community that produces a Catholic priest is highly regarded in the comity of communities and families.
But in recent times, the Priests have become target for kidnapers and armed robbers, and many have lost their lives in Nigeria in the hands of these men of the underworld.
From the killing of two Priests in Benue State by suspected Fulani herdsmen who were yet to be arrested, to the kidnapping and eventual death of Fr. Cyriacus Okonkwo, of Orlu Diocese in Imo State, the killing of Fr. Michael Akawu of Archdiocese in Abuja, and recently the gruesome murder of Fr. Jude Egbo. The list is endless.
The dangerous trend is a serious source of worry and concern for millions of Catholic faithful in Nigeria, who are looking up to the priests for words of consolation and encouragement especially in the face of current hardship and high level of government insensitivity to the plight of the people.
It is therefore inline with the current situation that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria rose from their Second Plenary session in Sokoto Diocese, Sokoto State to encourage Catholic faithful and Nigerians not to be afraid or discouraged.
The Bishops described the current situation as a trying moment in the Church, but insisted that as the Shepherds of the people, they will to continue to protect to the best of their abilities, the people entrusted to their care.
The Priests are the mouth piece of the people; they intercede on behalf of the people both in spiritual and socio-economic matters, which is why it has become a dangerous trend that needs the authorities to take serious measures to stop.
The government may claim that it is doing its best in securing the lives and property of Nigerians, but the increased spate of violence across the country as noted by the Bishops that has seen the frequent murder of unarmed Nigerians and most recently the priests, suggests that no serious work is being done in that regards by government.
The circumstances that usually surrounds the kidnapping or killing of priests has always suggested that a lot of youthful, energetic, willing and desperate hands are idle; hence there is need for government to become more creative and find a way of creating sustainable means of livelihood for these mass of youths.
It is no longer news that even if the Military, the Police, SSS, DSS, Air Force, Navy and all other security agencies in Nigeria are deployed to protect the nation and her citizens without a sustainable way of reducing the number of able but idle hands in the country, crimes such as kidnapping and killing of priests and other class of citizens will continue.
As Christians, especially Catholics, we remain resolute and will continue to listen to the instructions of our leaders, we will continue to offer prayers for Nigeria in distress, but government will be failing in her duties if she fails to rise up to the occasion and put to an end these onslaughts against our Catholic Priests and other citizens of the country.