Most Rev. (Dr.) Francis Obafemi Adesina, Catholic Bishop of Ijebu-Ode has congratulated Muslims as they mark the end of this year’s Ramadan fasting and the celebration of Eid-el-Fitri. In his statement made available to The Catholic Herald Bishop Adesina said: “It is with great joy and pleasure that I greet you on this day that you celebrate the holy feast of ‘Eid-el-Fitr’ (“the festival of breaking the fast”), to conclude your Ramadan period of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. “It is a tradition by now that, on this occasion, in the spirit of love and solidarity, I send you a message of good wishes, as expression of my desire for an interfaith interaction and oneness among us in Ijebu and Remo lands.”
Noting that both Christians and Muslims have basic doctrines held by their respective faithful, he urged both religious groups to promote peaceful co-existence and propagate their faith with trust and respect for one another. “I am happy that both Muslims and Christians in our society have come to the understanding that brotherhood, love and peace is important for our co-existence.
“What we are called to respect in each person is first of all his life, his physical integrity, his dignity and the right deriving from that dignity, his reputation, his property, his ethnic and cultural identity, his ideas and political choices.” This is the foundation of the mutual respect, peace and understanding that we continue to enjoy among us. “It is not coincidental that the holy season of Ramadan began during the Christian season of Lent.
This gave us the opportunity to reflect together on the commitments and necessity of fasting, praying and almsgiving in our journey of faith as required by both religions. “Seasons of this nature (Ramadan and Lent), after so much prayer and fasting should manifest in an exceptional way the core moral values for life that should be an ‘act of faith’ in any living community that has the capacity to grow, give hope and heal the broken hearted. “We thank God that we live in a country that recognises, at least in principle, the vital role which religion plays in the life of its citizens both as individuals and as society.
A country where every individual can freely profess his/her religion without discrimination. Religious tolerance, interfaith interactions and mutual respect should thrive among us. “Both Muslims and Christians have as a basic tenet of their respective faiths, the duty to propagate their faith. I therefore, invite us to do this with mutual trust and respect, without the spirits of superiority, competition and animosity.” On a final note, Bishop Adesina called for prayers for religious fanaticism, a root cause of terrorism in Nigeria. “I invite us all to remember in our prayers our dear nation Nigeria, for our brothers and sisters in the Northern part of the country, who are suffering from religious fanaticism and bigotry. Those who cannot celebrate God’s gift of freedom and peace to humanity. May God comfort them and give them every reason to be hopeful.”