The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has charged Christ’s faithful of Nsukka diocese to channel more efforts toward the pastoral care of Christian souls than the maintenance of stones, since according to him, “the Christian souls are the temple of God, and Christians are the living Church of Jesus Christ.”
While the prelate was full of commendation for the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah for his doggedness in completing the work on his new magnificent Cathedral of St. Theresa’s, as well as thanking the clergy and lay faithful for their collaboration and generosity to God, he nevertheless cautioned that “this Church will remain beautiful and a house of prayer only if we continue to live by faith and prayer.” The papal envoy lamented the situation in some erstwhile Catholic countries where magnificent Cathedral buildings built over the centuries have been turned into museums because “there are no more faithful, no more priests and no more faith.
” He therefore urged the Church in Nigeria to learn from those ugly experiences by ensuring that true faith is kept alive so that such failure does not befall their Church communities. To further drive home his point on the need for the faithful to keep the Cathedral alive by their faith, prayer and commitment, the Italian-born Archbishop copiously quoted Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), saying: “The spirit builds the stones, and not vice versa. The spirit cannot be replaced with money or with history.” As a fact, “When the spirit does not build, the stones become silent. When the spirit is not alive, when it is not effective, and there is no faith, cathedrals become museums, memorials to the past,” he argues. For indeed, “If the spirit does not give, money gives in vain.
It is faith alone that can keep cathedrals alive,” he concludes. In addition, Archbishop Filipazzi also stressed the need for religious tolerance in Nigeria, affirming that “places of worship are like thermometers for the society.” He noted that, “a country where the places of worship are destroyed by violence is an indication that such country is defeated, in danger, and losing its soul.” The historic and colourful event in Nsukka Cathedral which held on Thursday November 19, 2020 had in attendance John Cardinal Onayekan, the Bishop emeritus of Nsukka diocese, Bishop Francis Okobo, the metropolitan of Onitsha province, Archbishop Valerian Maduka Okeke, 29 other Archbishops and bishops, over 400 priests, a large number of female religious, the State Governor, His Excellency Lawrence Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, numerous other government dignitaries, royal fathers, the mother of Bishop Onah, and a sea of lay faithful from all over the diocese and beyond.