• Enjoins Dioceses to put in place a policy for just remuneration of catechists
By Neta Nwosu
Catholic Priests should show and grow their commitment to the Eucharist, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has said. At the end of the second plenary meeting held at Holy Ghost Cathedral, Ogui, Enugu, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria issued a Communiqué stating that priests should celebrate the Eucharist with great reverence, devotion and love, amid reflecting on issues affecting the Church and the Nigerian State. CBCN resolved: “The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council rightly proclaimed the Eucharist, as the source and summit of the Christian life (Lumen Gentium 11). This makes the Eucharist central to the life of the Church. The heart of the mystery of the Church is in the Eucharist (Ecclesia de Eucharistia 1), the mystery of faith. This mystery of faith certainly deserves to be celebrated with untainted faith, deep love and manifest devotion, always taking care that monetary matters do not distract the faithful or detract the solemnity of the celebration.
“We therefore urge priests to show and grow their commitment to the Eucharist. They are to celebrate the Eucharist as “servants” of the mystery and not “masters” of it. As servants, priests are called to the consciousness that adding or subtracting from the approved Missal text, does not build up the faith of the people. “We exhort our priests to intensify their efforts in making adequate preparation of themselves and of the people. In celebrating the Holy Eucharist with great reverence, devotion and love, the people are nourished in the Word of God and their faith is strengthened by a worthy reception of the Holy Communion,” the Communiqué read in parts. “The Conference also charged the clergy to give Catechesis and evangelization, a place of eminence in their pastoral task. It also urged the lay faithful to intensify their prayer in these trying times.
“Regardless of our challenges, all of us are called to take part in the missionary “going forth” to encounter the men and women of our time, where they are. But for that to happen, it is incumbent on all Christians to make an unconditional option for Christ, even in critical times, such as the ones we are passing through today. “Flight from God, the jettisoning or watering down of the Gospel values, resort to violence through revenge killings and reprisal attacks, and a return to fetishism and idolatry, in the face of difficulties can never constitute enduring solutions. For as the Psalmist sings, “Those who choose other gods, increase their sorrows” (Ps. 16:4). “That is why it is now all the more imperative for all teachers of the faith, but especially, Bishops, Priests and Religious, employing the use of the communications media, homilies, relevant literature, catechisms, and other wholesome strategies, to rededicate themselves to intensified catechesis, and the evangelization of our people.
“Indeed, all teachers of the faith have a duty to challenge the faithful, to embrace the Gospel in its totality, with an exemplary witness of life rooted in Christ, as well as fidelity to Him in the living out of the temporal realities: The family, culture, professional commitment in the world of work, science and research, the exercise of social, economic and political responsibilities.” On the need for integral Catholic education, the Communiqué read thus: “The primary goal of Catholic education is not just to prepare people for earthly life, but also for salvation as well. The youths learn about God, who wants us to develop all our capacities, until we become our best selves, as a way of giving glory to him. It is when we focus our energies on knowing and serving God that we become our best selves, and are able to make positive impact on society (GravissimumEducationis, 4).
“We call on Catholic educators to understand that the way a person chooses to exercise his or her knowledge is as important as having knowledge itself. Therefore, we encourage character development, instilling in all learners, ethical values that ultimately guide their decision-making process, from their personal, everyday behaviour to their chosen career paths. Moral conduct, as dictated by Christian principles is to be built into the very fabric of school culture. Following the example of Jesus Christ, students should be drawn to model Christian behavior, by respecting the dignity of each individual, and be encouraged to express their faith, in word, thought, and deed. “Above all, Catholic education should focus on forming compassionate and just leaders, who are prepared to rise up to and confront the complexities of the ever-changing Nigerian society.
Young people who go to our schools should receive solid and quality academic foundations, spiritual fortitude, strong moral convictions, and the desire to be actively engaged in their communities.” The high ranking clerics called on Catholic Dioceses of Nigeria to put in place remuneration for Catechists as part of their diocesan budgets, for the fact that if they neglect this task, the Church will pay heavily, consequent upon shallow faith of Catholics, who will be unable to stand their grounds against all kinds of attacks on their faith. “On 10 May 2021, Pope Francis, in his Motu Proprio, Antiquum Ministerium (Ancient Ministry), established the lay ministry of Catechist. We, the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, welcome with joy and enthusiasm this newly instituted ministry. “As shepherds of God’s flock, we commit ourselves to making fruitful and viable this ministry, for the building up of the Body of Christ, and promoting the mission of the Church in the world. Furthermore, we enjoin Dioceses to put in place a policy for just remuneration of catechists and pastoral care of retired, old and sick Catechists.”